The objectives of the study were to : - identify and describe the urban travel habits associated with this non-motorised transport mode ; - produce profiles of different types of rollerbladers, specifying the reasons for which they have chosen this new mode of transport and the image that these users have of other transport modes ; - determine the characteristics of those places in the city that are most favourable to the development of rollerblading ; - measure the difficulties encountered in terms of sharing road space and cohabiting with other transport modes ; - describe the regulatory and infrastructural resources implemented locally in order to manage the development of this new transport mode ; - evaluate rollerblading’s potential as a form of urban transport and the issues surrounding its development for tomorrow’s cities.
The method used comprised three aspects: - a survey among users in Paris, Rennes and Annecy; - a survey among officials from local and regional authorities (in the three French cities, as well as in Berlin and Lausanne); - a complementary survey among selected respondents (presidents of associations, rollerblade retailers, etc.). The five cities (Paris, Annecy, Rennes, Lausanne, Berlin) that constitute our survey area were chosen for their emblematic character with regard to rollerblading or rollerblading policy.
Rollerblading is a mass phenomenon, with 5 million rollerbladers in France and 10 million in Germany. A recent survey by the French ministry for young people and sports estimated that the actual number of rollerbladers in France was 1.9 million. Rollerblading can be linked to new forms of urban sociability based on "clans" or peer groups with similar interests which becomes apparent during events such as parades and carnivals. Seven types of rollerblader have been identified, each corresponding to different usage patterns and habits: practical travellers, surface travellers, tourist rollerbladers, beginner rollerbladers, fitness rollerbladers, specialist rollerbladers, urban leisure rollerbladers. Current tendencies are favourable to the development of rollerblade use (increased leisure time, etc.). However, there are many obstacles to such development: no specific recognised status for rollerbladers, a sense of not being in complete safety, demands on users in terms of technical skill and physical condition, clothing-related constraints (e.g. the need to change clothing if rollerblading to work). On the other hand, the technological obstacles that currently exist will diminish over time, particularly in terms of switching between rollerblading and walking. The specificity of rollerblading as a non-motorised mode of transport is its speed over short distances; it is also a transport mode that lends itself to intermodality. Rollerblading constitutes a new, alternative, versatile, intermodal and non-polluting means of urban transport that is still somewhat marginal, but which has significant potential for growth, and which is particularly appreciated by young adults who are students or entering into full-time work, especially in relaxed or artistic contexts where they are not required to act in a representational capacity