Inline Skating Etiquette: Sharing the Path Responsibly

Understanding Right of Way for Skaters

Each country will have its own individual road laws for all users from cars to bicycles to pedestrians and also skaters. How do we know what laws to follow? The best way to get information like this would normally be the internet. If you simply google the laws for skating on the streets in the country you wish to skate in then you will probably find next to no information about this unless skating is an extremely popular sport in your country. Hopefully after reading this you will be more aware about what you can and cannot do on skates in the streets.

In the UK, there are no specific laws for skaters at all so we are pretty much considered pedestrians on the streets. Here on our little island you can skate wherever you want without getting too much hassle from the transport police. This changes when you start to do tricks on obstacles of course but when it comes to simply skating around you are pretty much free to roam wherever you like. Unless you see a sign that reads "no skating" then you should be good to go. Be a pedestrian, be a bicycle or be a car but please be careful and think, "could I hurt someone else". Also it would be good to consider your own ability before jumping onto the busy streets. Make sure you can stop safely on your own at different speeds before becoming part of the traffic.

In Europe inline skating is more popular and can be considered in the same category as a cyclist. This obviously depends on the specific country's road laws. As a cyclist you can follow all of the cycle paths but you may be restricted from using some roads and pedestrian paths. 

We also recommend that you use lights when skating on the roads at night. This may even be the law in some countries so double check before you skate into the darkness. High visibility clothing and flashing lights could save your life on a dark road in the evenings so definitely consider that.

Communicating with Other Path Users

When Inline Skating with pedestrians nearby it is very common for them to expect the worst. Everyone watching you come towards them will likely assume that you are going to fall into them on your skates. For most of us this will never be the case and we will be able to smoothly move past them with ease but it would be great to give them some space as we do so. As skaters we will usually have our hands free so we can use hand signals to let others know our intentions.

Bikes have a nice little bell on their handlebars to let you know that they are around. As we have our hands free we can make noise by clapping our hands or simply to shout ahead if we need to let someone know that we are passing them on the side. A common shout is "on your right" as you will most likely pass on the right but remember this would be "left" outside of the UK.

Inline Skating Safety Around Pedestrians and Cyclists

As skaters we need to be aware that we are the minority and that the other road users may have no idea how to react to a skater on the roads or paths. It is very easy for us skaters to change direction quickly but this can be very difficult for a cyclist. When travelling in between cyclists be aware that they are used to objects travelling in straight lines. On skates it's better for us to move from side to side and even though we can move in a straight line when we really need to, we sometimes send out an unexpected foot which could cause distress to an oncoming cyclist. The best way to avoid this would be to stay consistent in the way you skate so if someone is following you, they will be able to track your possible movements.

It's a little easier with cyclists as most of the time you will all be travelling in the same direction. With pedestrians it can be a little more complicated. Most pedestrians do not look behind them before changing direction as they assume that nothing is coming up behind them at speed. Be aware of this if you wish to pass someone close by. It's always a good idea to give space where possible and not to pass by someone too closely. On the paths we will need to consider animals too. Dogs are not always so pleased to see skaters so they may run towards you unexpectedly. The last thing anyone wants to do is to hurt a dog so it is advised that you slow down to pass animals. Also watch out for those dog leads that you could easily trip over.