An Exceptional Commute Q&A with JJ Doria
Tell us a bit about yourself
“I am an Electrical Engineering major and an Entrepreneurial Leadership minor student. I’m a Junior right now, so I have one more year left. I am the President of Gonzaga Sustainable Energy (GSE). I’ve participated a lot in the sustainability scene here at GU. I had the opportunity to be the GEO president my sophomore year. It’s been such a place for me to grow. I’m super thankful for the community and all the resources that we have. Through GSE, we’re looking to get more resources for energy-related sustainability on campus.”
Tell us about the type of commuting you do, and for how long you’ve been doing it.
“I’d never skateboarded before a year ago. I knew friends that longboarded, and they just really liked it because it was fun. I was associated with skateboarding, but I was like, I don’t know if I’m really a skateboarder. But I’ve done mountain biking, downhill skiing, and I really like things that are just kind of fun to learn. The reason why I thought of getting a longboard, because I wanted to be conscious, and not just buy a new thing, I wanted to make sure it was something I could use- I always saw people around campus using longboards to get places, so when I was going into my Junior year, I realized I needed a way to get to campus. I do have a vehicle, which is not necessarily a good thing, because sometimes I definitely do use it to get to campus, more in the winter months. When I was transitioning to off-campus housing, I was like, I need to find a way to transport myself that is not by vehicle. I try to carpool as much as possible, to bring other people with me so I’m not just driving by myself. I picked longboarding up during the summer. It’s relatively easy in comparison to skateboarding. The board is bigger, so it’s more stable, and you don’t have as much trouble getting over bumps.”
How do longboarding & sustainability go together, in your mind?
“I got a longboard that was a little more pricey because I wanted to pay for something that was actually made out of better resources. My longboard is made out of bamboo. Bamboo versus other materials is much better for the environment, and it also supports an industry that is trying to figure out ways to use woods that are replenishable quickly. (The brand name is Loaded, for those curious.) Any longboard, I think, is just as environmental as biking, if not more. There are less materials used, and a lot less things to replace.”
As a student, do you see having commute options as something that is important to you? Would you prefer to live in a city that has reliable public transit in comparison to having to drive everywhere?
“I think having a variety of ways to get to campus is important. I think it might also be a good thing to have a car sometimes, especially in the snow, because you can help out other people that need to get to campus, and ensure they’re safe. If it’s icy out, it’s not good for you to ride a longboard or be on your bike. I’ve had so many friends just fall, and that is a good reason to have a vehicle. So I’ll use my vehicle on a day that I don’t feel safe longboarding or biking, but if it’s a nice sunny day or even if it’s raining a little, I feel totally comfortable longboarding or biking. This summer, I was going to be interning in Chicago, but it got cancelled. I was really torn about the transportation part, because it matters a lot to me that I can bring my bike and longboard there, and I really didn’t want to bring my car. So I looked into public transportation, and it seems like they have a pretty great system in Chicago, so that made moving there and living there seem a lot more viable.”
What is the biggest challenge you’ve ever faced while longboarding?
“The greatest challenge is crossing Mission. They stop for longboarders, so I respect that. Another challenge is just getting on the sidewalks. You have to learn how to navigate the curbs on Gonzaga’s campus. You have to know where the entrance and exit points onto the concrete are. At one point, I was longboarding towards Sharp from DeSmet Circle, and there was some sort of dirt on the ground. I hit it and the two wheels at the front of my longboard just stopped, and I flew forward. I scraped my elbow and my knee, but I think that’s the worst of it. I think crashing on a bike might actually be worse.”
How have the changing seasons impacted your ability to commute in this way?
“The concrete definitely gets more slippery when it rains, but you just have to make sure you’re not turning too hard. It’s annoying, because the water will get all over you, since the front wheels kick up water. On the ice though, it’s not a good time.”
Do you think there is anything the university could do to get more students involved with alternate modes of transportation?
“There could be more longboard racks, but they actually do have some on campus, at the library. I think there are some in other places as well, I’m just not sure where. I really don’t have to put the longboard anywhere though, because I can just set it against the wall in my classroom. I would definitely say there is a longboarding culture on campus. There are quite a few people who do it, and I’ve had friends that end up longboarding, which is pretty cool to see them start up and help them out. I’ve got a friend that I sometimes longboard to campus and back to the Logan neighborhood with, which is a good time.”
Any final thoughts or words of wisdom, whether about skateboarding or life in general?
“When you’re transporting yourself on and off campus, it’s good to have some sort of buddy system. Make sure people know that you’re leaving campus, or arriving on campus, because accidents do happen and transportation’s a pretty serious thing. I’ve made sure I’m safe longboarding and getting used to longboarding before going out on the road. The same with biking. You need to feel safe in your transportation mode, otherwise ask a friend to go with you or take you. Also, transport yourself during the daytime. That’s a good thing to remember, especially if you’re biking or longboarding.”