Ride By


As I conducted my field report project at Philadelphia’s Franklin Paine’s Skatepark, I asked myself how I could implement social justice from what I was observing. I myself enjoy utilizing the facility when I ride my bike there, and have often got more than a few unfriendly glances from skateboarders. The reason behind this is because the skaters do not particularly like when bikers grind things with their pegs because they claim that it is ruining and chipping the ledges they like to skate. Whether or not this is true, there is at times unease between both groups. Even other groups of people catch nasty vibes if they are riding scooters there or roller blading. Not to mention the glares parents get when they bring their children there to learn how to express themselves. On any given day there is a possibility of a general negative vibe lurking around this public space that is meant to be open to anyone who wants to freely express him or herself. I began to think of ways that could counter this petty problem with connections to what I was observing. It seemed that the majority of the people utilizing the facility were males in the age group of 16 to 30 years old, most of whom owned a smart phone. This is how I got the idea for my social justice app “Ride By”.

As much as I wish I could create an app that defuses the drama that is created between the different groups, my guess is that some people will always bicker. Take a look at the skate park built under highway 76 in Franklin Delano Roosevelt Park, it is almost impossible for bikers to ride there unless they wake up very early and get there before noon or else they will be harassed by skaters all day. It is so bad that some old school skaters might even throw bottles at you in attempt to pop your tires. It is a sad reality that some groups cannot get along with others in free public spaces so this app attempts to help the situation a bit while also allowing the user to know if the place is crowded or not.

The design of the app is still in the creative process but I will discuss the basic idea behind it so far. The app will have you create a small profile that will take into account your name, what you do (bike/skateboard/..etc), and what skate parks you visit routinely. Because of the name feature, it can work socially too; you will be able to friend request buddies and see if they checked into any skate parks. When someone creates a profile they are required to simply ‘check in’ at one of the participating skate parks and the information will be sent to a data collector that makes a pie chart to visually represent a somewhat accurate ratio of what groups are currently at the selected skate park. When designing the populated feature, a survey will have to be taken of the selected skate parks to decide what crowded and normal conditions mean according to the space. It will be divided into three sections – No Data, Normal, and Crowded. No data meaning no one with the app has checked in so the software cannot give any kind of representation. The other two should be self-explanatory. Hopefully the app will also be able to pull information from various places about ‘demos’ and ‘jams’ that will be happening so that one can be aware that the park will be very much packed.

“Ride By” gets its name from the act of someone riding by a skate park and observing what the scene is like. Because so many skate parks in the United States are in urban and suburban areas, people can do what they like around town while simultaneously retrieving information about their local park and its estimated ratio of users. This app attempts to take the surprise out of a wasted drive or cruise up to a park that is packed or a majority of one group. An example would be if there was a professional skateboard company demo going on at Paine’s Park and a biker didn’t know. Showing up to the park crowded with all skaters, the biker would likely leave disappointed. Another example is a parent who would like to bring his or her child to a skate park to get them interested in a given sport without having to worry about them almost getting run over ever two seconds. Ride By would flourish the most by accumulating more and more users so that the data is more accurate.

Visual Design


I would like to create a short film interviewing and describing the app to different people at different skate parks. In this video I would have an illustration of the apps and features and show their reflections and predictions of the app. The other choice would be to make a power point that describes the app while also having clips from various skate parks in it as well.


  • Now- 31st – Looking for more articles
  • March 31st  – Meeting with Kristina DeVoe
  • April 1-10th – Have all of my scholarly articles picked out and read
  • April 11-20th – Writing and Preparing my presentation
  • April 21- May 1st – Filming for the media component
  • May 2nd – Due date – Revisions and completion of the media component






2 thoughts on “Ride By”

  1. This really sounds like a great idea and seems like it will be useful to all skaters and bikers. If you did get to do a video that would be really cool. Are there that many skate parks in the Philadelphia area? Because this is a topic I don’t know much about (I’ve been on a skateboard once) I’m unaware of the rules, actually and unspoken, of the parks but can see how having different kinds of skaters can cause issues for skateboarders. It’s also great for parents as you said that want to bring their young children to learn how to skate or just to watch. You don’t want to have to worry about your child being hit by another boarder or getting yelled at for being in the way. I’m guessing the app would use the location functions of the phone to determine exactly where you are and where you want to go?
    Overall great idea and I look forward to seeing more about this later in the semester.

  2. There is something really intriguing in the idea of using an app to help people share public space in better ways. I also like that you don’t propose doing that via more draconian segregation methods (like setting aside specific times that groups use the various parks). I do still recommend being explicit on how you are tying this project to social justice (re: the Light and Luckin reading). It will also be important to explain in your paper and relevant skating and biking terms, like ‘demos’ and ‘jams.’

    Are you just focusing on “official” parks? I ask because several people did skater apps last year that focused on parks as more illicit skating venues (like Love park). The trouble with using apps like this for non-official spaces of course is that it opens itself up to surveillance. For example, if you aren’t legally allowed to skate in spaces, letting the cops with the app know that lots of people are there is problematic. For that reason I think it’s really smart to focus, as you have, on parks. In discussing privacy concerns it might be worth noting that decision in your paper.

    In general this app can be useful all over, and the basic design can even be applicable in other contexts (from gyms to pools to hiking trails). Both visual component ideas sound good and your research seems headed in the right direction.

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