I love roller-skating, I carry them around on all my travels. I will be spending 6 months in USA (evenly between Chicago, New York, San Francisco, LA and Salt Lake City).

I was wondering if it is safe (or not frowned-upon) to skate on sidewalks in these cities?

Of course, I won't be zooming past pedestrians or anything. I just like following the rhythm of the pedestrians; but on my skates.

  • By laws probably differ from city to city. This might get closed as too broad :/
    – Mark Mayo
    Commented May 18, 2015 at 10:04

3 Answers 3


(I'm unsure of the legality of roller-skating as transport in these cities.) It's not necessarily frowned upon, just extremely unusual (roller-skating as a means of transport is uncommon in the USA). Note that sidewalks in all of these cities may be quite irregular, i.e. bumpy -- the norm is concrete slabs, which may have fissures between them. Also common are asphalt sidewalks, which are intended to be smoother, but inevitably get broken up and occasionally potholed by tree roots and weathering.

I don't roller-skate, but I imagine that those properties of sidewalks would probably be significant obstacles to roller-skating. That's not to mention that the sidewalks in some of these cities (e.g. downtown Manhattan) can get extremely crowded, to the point that roller-skating freely is practically impossible.

Note, however, that there do exist paths that you could use for roller-skating: usually these are recreational trails for general jogging/cycling/etc. However, as a means of transport, I think you won't find your roller-skates very useful in the USA.

Finally, to answer your question of is it safe: well, it probably won't kill you to go roller-skating in these cities. It'll probably just be quite inconvenient.

  • San Francisco Transportation Code, Section 7.2.13?
    – Gayot Fow
    Commented May 18, 2015 at 5:51

Inline Skates would be more practical to use in the USA because they would provide a smoother ride than Quad style Skates.

The larger the wheels are on Inline Skates the smoother the ride with them will be, however they will require more effort to get up to speed, and the top speed of the larger wheels will be quite a bit faster than smaller wheels, so if you are not experienced with higher speeds on skates, you should probably not go with anything above 90mm.

Something else to consider is hills, if the cities that you are visiting have enough hills, you might want to consider how much experience you have with hills while riding on skates, because gravity will assist you greatly on hills and can very easily land you in the hospital if you fall while traveling at the higher speeds that the gravity assist will provide.

  • Isn't gravity uni-directional?
    – Gayot Fow
    Commented May 18, 2015 at 6:32
  • 1
    @GayotFow I'm not sure what you're trying to say. Gravity makes you go down very fast on hills on any sort of freewheeling system. Yes, uphill on skates is harder than flat land, but downhill it makes you go fast, and from a safety point of view, slowly up and quickly down is less safe than a reasonable speed the whole distance.
    – cpast
    Commented May 18, 2015 at 6:50
  • @cpast, so is it safer in Laguna Beach, LA?
    – Gayot Fow
    Commented May 18, 2015 at 7:01
  • @GayotFow Flat terrain is, all else equal, safer than hilly terrain. You go slower on flat terrain than hilly terrain.
    – cpast
    Commented May 18, 2015 at 7:06
  • 1
    Makes sense, hills will end you up in hell... that's what I understood from this answer.. Commented May 18, 2015 at 7:14

If you do this, I'd advise you to be extraordinarily careful at intersections. Motorists making turns are, at best, looking for pedestrians moving at normal walking speeds in crosswalks. A right turning driver isn't necessarily going to see you speeding up to the corner from behind on your skates. This kind of accident is depressingly common when people ride bikes on sidewalks; the same basic risk applies to skates.

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