My First Blog Post: Birmingham Skate Culture

A Fast, Affordable and Trending Way to Avoid Running for the Bus

What connects Birmingham the most? Its raffish charm, perhaps a result of its heavy-industrial earthiness? Its hidden gems dotted throughout Digbeth and surrounding locations? Its sense of subculture, variety and ethnic diversity?

 

Reviewing the question more literally to answer all three questions with a definite yes; our main source of connection that allows the multiculturalism of Birmingham to radiate is quite simply, its transport links. How we reach our destinations is a huge indicator on the worth of the location because our generation has become ‘heavily adapted to convenience’ states Simon Sinek (MTV Australia- A commentary on the Millennial).

How we manage to find and discover these supposed ‘hidden gem’ locations, as a local bar tender at ‘Sun on the Hill’ referred to them as, is a main factor that draws us closer to discovering the good, the bad and the plain ugly parts of Birmingham, that just unarguably have to be experienced to get ‘the full Brummie package’.

However, it can be argued by: the general public, residents of Birmingham, commuting workers and students, that the transport links are poorly positioned, particularly when you compare this to the advanced travel links incorporated into the city structure of London.

If convenient travel is the way forward to exploring the nooks and crannies of Birmingham that public transport cannot reach, why not do this in style? Even the likes of Balenciaga, famous Spanish fashion designer has recognised the trending emergence of street style inspired by skating subcultures, throughout Barcelona. Why not incorporate this youthful, not to mention environmentally sustainable method of transportation, into our daily lives.

There are currently ongoing plans to regenerate the city by The Vision Regeneration Group, where they aim to improve upon the bus system as this accounts for 86% of Birmingham transport (Centro). Noticeably a trend is emerging in the skate culture throughout Birmingham as the youthful population have taken advantage of the gap, being the ‘poorly positioned public transport’ weaving its way throughout Birmingham; responsively building a community that closely mirrors the urban skating culture seen in South Bank London. Nine Skating facilities have been created in response to this demand for safe skate zones.

From a recent discussion with a group of skateboarders after running, missing and hyperventilating whilst chasing the bus towards Birmingham airport; I noticed that the skaters were not hyperventilating, red-faced or sweating buckets.  I later met a Portuguese Skateboarder called Ivan Balde from Algarve, who had been skating for ten years around the cities of Barcelona, Albufeira, Algarve, London and Birmingham. Balde discussed the sense of community that came from skateboarding as well as skating being a convenient travel method since arriving in the UK throughout both London and Birmingham.

Billy, 23 a local Birmingham skateboarder,  highlighted the viable method of reducing a ten minute walk with a portable skateboard, which had often prevented lateness for him personally.  Not only does the convenience of skateboarding benefit the people of the public transport; it also has an environmentally positive effect as this reduces car ownership, thus lowering toxic emissions created by cars for making short and unnecessary journeys.

Rather than spending money towards a regeneration scheme throughout Birmingham to tighten the public transport links, would it not be more financially viable to encourage and support the safety of portable urban transportation? Would this make or break the image of the city, as one ex-Birmingham resident Carol Newman commented upon the social disturbance, supposedly caused by skate groups throughout the city? Then again, we could debate that skate culture is just a (greatly more) fashionable spin off of London’s Boris Bikes (minus the hijacking of corporate industry – Santander and other various corporate interests that utilised environmentally-friendly advertising schemes)

 

 NSJ

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