Rollerskating & Rollerblading

Parent Q&A

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  • Roller Skating Lesson for Young Child

    (1 reply)

    Hi - does anyone know of anyone that gives roller skating lessons to young children? My son, age 5 is recently interested in roller skating and really wants to learn and start to skate often.

    Tarah Bishop (her derby name, other name Sara) has been an incredible teacher for my 11 year old. She's also reliable, communicative, a pro in all senses. We've seen her working with kids younger than that, too, although I don't know about as young as 5 (but why not?). The only way I know to reach her is through insta (below), or I have her Whatsapp that I can share if you want to reach out. Quad Republic is a great dedicated shop in El Cerrito and may have other leads (although she was the only East Bay teacher they knew of off-hand). (It's also a great spot for supplies, BTW!)

Archived Q&A and Reviews


Outdoor Rollerskating in East Bay?

Sept 2012

I want to get my old skates back on and ride around with my kids on their bikes. They are 4 and 6 years old so do not have great control yet on the bikes. They need a wide open, flat space or uncrowded path. I need smooth pavement for the skates. Are there any places like this in the East Bay? And if not East Bay, anywhere in the Bay Area? We live in Berkeley but would drive a little distance if there was an ideal destination. The Berkeley Marina has a beautiful path but too rough for skating. I would also love to find people interested in joining us on this skating/biking adventure but that is probably a subject for an entirely different post. where do people skate outdoors?

I see a lot of people rollerblading on the 'Iron Horse Trail' that stretches from Concord though Walnut Creek to Dublin. The paving is quite good in most places. Going south, there are lots of intersections from Walnut Creek to Danville, but after that there are long sections without much cross traffic. North of Walnut Creek there are long sections without cross streets too. -bicycle guy

Back when I used to skate somewhat regularly, I went to the Iron Horse Trail in Walnut Creek - it's the old railroad right-of-way, so it's paved, flat and has relatively few street crossings. It runs all the way from Concord to Dublin, so you can pick it up at different spots and go the distance you want, then return to your starting point. I've taken my kids biking there a few times and it's good for beginning bicyclists, too. More info: or The Lafayette-Moraga Regional Trail ( is also good for bikes, although I haven't tried it on skates. Lastly, the bike paths around Bay Farm Island in Alameda (map here: are good for bikes, but again, I haven't tried to skate them since I was a kid. Scenic, cooler weather than CoCo, lagoons and ducks to explore when you take a break. Looking forward to seeing what others recommend, too! JP

I love the Richmond Marina ( Very wide paths, nicely paved, never too crowded (maybe more so on the weekends?) I enjoyed many rollerblading experiences there and I'm someone who doesn't know how to brake very well! My only concern is that it is right by the water so if you're going too fast/out of control, there is no guard rail...but the path is pretty wide. Plus a long windy smooth path cuts through a huge grassy area (w/ picnic tables, etc) so if you don't want to roller blade along the path by the water, you can be surrounded by grass. It's right by the water and the views are gorgeous. Its about 15 min away from Berkeley. The path actually connects all the way to Pt Isabel (behind the Richmond Costco.) I've also rollerbladed near the water in Emeryville (don't know what the area is called but it is near the Chevy's) but the water is smelly and the path much more narrow. The Richmond Marina is a hidden gem and I'm always surprised that I don't see more people enjoying the area. Richmond Marina lover

I don't know of anywhere in the East Bay, but a great day trip for you might be to head to the east side of Golden Gate Park on a Sunday when they close the road (JFK drive?) to traffic from the Conservatory of Flowers to down past the waterfall, leaving a wide smooth road open to walkers, joggers, bikers and skaters. There is even a small area that is usually full of people dancing on their roller skates. Tracy

Heelys - too dangerous for 7-year-old?

Sept 2008

I have a 7-yr-old daughter who wants Heelys for her birthday. I have reservations about them mainly for safety reasons. They encourage being worn everywhere because they're a hybrid between a toy and a shoe. There are so many places where it's not appropriate to wear them it just seems like I'm inviting into our lives a new thing for us to debate. I've already told her that both her parents have to agree and that, if we do agree, she'd have to wear a helmet any time she was wearing them, but I still don't think it's sensible. If I restrict it too much, they'll be a waste of money because she'll outgrow them before she uses them much. Anybody with good Heely experiences? Am I overthinking these? Unsure of my stance

It really depends on your daughter--is she coordinated, with a good sense of balance? Both of my kids had Heelys, starting around age 7 or so. My son took a loooong time to get the hang of them, and we made him wear a bike helmet and pads for quite a while. My daughter (a dancer) didn't have any problem with them--put them on and rolled off.

That being said, one of my daughter's classmates got a pair last year at age 8, and promptly fell down and broke her leg. It's a good idea to start with the helmet & pads, and restrict where she can wear them. Edna

I think Heely's are dangerous too. We got them for our 7 yo daughter earlier this year, and she ended up falling on her bottom really hard. She hasn't wanted to touch them since. I would recommend trying some out first to see how your child does. It probably depends on their level of balance/coordination. Good luck! kristen

I have a 9 year old daughter who got Heelys in Kindergarten. They are kind of expensive, so we made her save her money and pay half. She saved the money (even pulling weeds and walking dogs) and off we went to buy them.

We were half convinced she would ''break her neck.'' We made her wear a helmet in the beginning along with knee pads. (We still think this was a good idea for the beginning.)

Within 2 days, she was doing great. She loves Heely's and we bought her last pair at Costco for nearly 1/2 the price ($75 vs $42). Get the Heely's one size bigger, but no more. Our friend bought her daughter Heely's 3 sizes too big so she wouldn't have to replace them and her daughter could not easily maneuver them, ended up not wearing them for a year until she could control them.

Advantages: They come with a tool to take the wheels out. If our daughter misuses hers, we take the wheels and she puts in the plugs for an agreed upon time. They help your child develop coordination. Your child feels more grown up, because let's face it, these are not preschooler skates. No scuff marks - unlike roller skates, Heely's don't leave marks on our wood floors or tile. The stability of a shoe makes it safer. And finally, they're really fun.

Disadvantages: Until your daughter learns to use them, she will fall - a lot.

I say, let her have them. Let her know that there are rules and that you get to have the wheels when the agreed upon rules are not followed. Then watch her have fun. Mom of Heely's Girl

My daughter, age 8, is on her second pair of Heeleys in two years. I was hesitant to get them for her at first, mainly because of the price. She loves them, especially anywhere with smooth floors such as Safeway and Ikea, she never wears a helmet or padding, and has never had a serious fall; I don't think she really goes so fast or is so far off the ground that either are necessary, and are actually a hindrance to good vision and balance. She and the neighbor kid Heeley-race in the driveway all the time. And they are an instant friend-maker, as soon as she sees another kid with Heeleys, off they go. --not a big deal

My son loves his Heelys and I think they are safe. He fell once or twice before he got the hang of it, but he fell right away, before he barely moved. You either fall immediately or you get it and you're fine. He does have to be watched so he doesn't wear them someplace inappropriate, like stores or museums! I have on occasion found myself on my knees wrenching the wheels out with my hands (with sufficient desperation, it can be done -- you don't HAVE to use the little tool) because I didn't realize he had them on until he started rolling in a no- rolling zone. Fran

When the Heely craze hit our house, I gave in & got some. At the store (big 5) they had a sale table & I also got a pair for myself. OK, the 9 year old practiced walking on his heels etc & after a few days had his muscles and the whole thing together. The 7 year old didn't practice and didn't learn how to do it. The grown up tried it a few times but was scared I'd break my back or something so mine have become loaners for 9 year old friends.

Some people are really good at it and some are too scared. The take away is that it requires a new set of muscles to hold your feet up. I don't make him wear a helmet. I think the most dangerous thing is perhaps causing someone else, a pedestrian, to fall....courtesy is extra important. They do scuff up floors. They had to out law 'em at school...

They say all over the packaging that they are dangerous. That's a given. Can your child master it? I didn't know until they had them. I was really scared , thought I was a crummy mummy... not protecting enough... but, I try to let them build their confidence and be responsible with their bodies so... it's up to you.

In my opinion, yes, you're overthinking this. A helmet....for heely's?!? That's so far over the top. She could fall down your front steps probably more easily than in her shoes. The way children learn to be physical is by being physical and trying new things. Let her give it a shot, I bet she'll be great at it. At 7, I was flying down driveways and hills on my 1980 rollerskates. Guess helmet. A few scraped knees and hands but I was a great skater. Loosen up on the safety a little; save it for the big stuff - cars, roller coasters, airplanes, etc. Let her explore her talents and her body, that's how they find out their limitations. Good luck and have fun with it! Helmets are for riding motorcycles, not wearing shoes

I don't know about other folks but these shoes annoy the you- know-what out of me. Kids rolling around in Target, Safeway, etc., crashing into innocent shoppers, going too fast for sidewalks, running into pets and the elderly. And the worst? They never apologize nor do I see parents ever keep their kids in line with these shoes.

I would say buy your child some rollerblades but leave the Heely's at the store. roller derby shopper

Your decision about heelys should be about your risk tolerance. I would suggest helmets/knee elbow pads. Accidents happen. Here is some info that originated with consumer reports. Jessica

Beginner skates for five year old

April 2008

My son, who is almost five, is excited about the idea of learning to roller skate. I don't think he's quite ready for it, though he has excellent balance and gross motor skills.

A friend of mine recommended that I look for skates that have a feature which allows you to slow down the wheels, making them safer for smaller children. She bought a pair for her daughter years ago. Does anyone know where I can purchase a pair like this? I have been looking online, but maybe I'm looking in the wrong places.

Also, at what age do most children learn to roller skate? It's been so long for me that I can't even remember! Thank you!

I can't help you with the skates, but re: ages. My daughters (3 & 5) are up on ice skates, so I assume that we will transition to roller skates as soon as the snow melts...My friend had her daughter up on skates last summer at age 4, but they were in-line skates. Her daughter has been ice-skating for two years. jan

Let me just say, roller skating is GREAT and a much cheaper hobby than ice skating. 5 years old is definitely old enough to learn skate - I started taking my kids to the skating rink when they were 3 and 5, and now at the ages of 5 and 7 they happily skate around and around our deadend for hours. I think you are talking about those skates where you can lock the back wheels so they don't roll - my kids never used those - if the back wheels don't roll, they aren't skating, they are walking, so what is the point? I would say just buy regular skates and some good knee pads and he will be fine. I would also recommend having him learn how to skate at an indoor rink. My kids skate outside now, but it was definitely easier for them to learn on a nice smooth rink with a nice smooth handrail all the way around. loves to skate

My three year old uses a pair of Little Tikes brand plastic skates bought at Tuesday Morning - included with knee and elbow pads. Supposedly there are children's skates that don't roll backwards which supposedly help reduce falls. But my 3yo does fine with these cheapie plastic ones for now. They strap on over her shoes, great introduction. rolling mama

Our kids started rollerblading at 5yrs. Just make sure they're well padded (wrist guards, knee & elbow pads, helmets) and send them down the sidewalk! It's great training for their little legs and balance. cameron

Where to rollerblade in Berkeley/El Cerrito

July 2004

I am looking for a long, flat, stretch of path to get some good rollerblading time in. I lived in LA and was able to rollerblade for miles from Malibu to Venice and I miss it. I've tried the Ohlone path, but there are too many times I need to cross streets and the transitions are really bumpy. I've also tried Inspiration Point, which is a little too hilly. I'm ideally looking for something in the Berkeley/El Cerrito area.

It sounds like the Berkeley Marina would be a great place for you to find that flat stretch of land with the added bonus of a great view! It is primarily a dog park but there are also many runners and/or bikers there too. It is a little hilly with curved paths but maybe a nice place to try out! Jill

I'm not a rollerblader, but I've seen people rollerblading and skating along the Bay Trail. You can start at the dog park at Point Isobel and head north all the way to the Richmond Marina. Marcia

Have you tried the bike path that goes from emeryville up to the Richmond Marina. From Central Ave in El Cerrito/Richmond it starts at the 580 off ramp and goes south along the highway (ok, but its highway on one side, bay on the other) and north goes more inland and ends up at the richmond marina and pt. richmond. Its part of the Bay Trail that will eventually encircle the bay. Going North from Central there are no streets to cross. Going south there are a few at the major intersections. anon

Try the waterfront path at Pt. Isabel in Richmond, at the very end of Central Street (exits off 580 and 80) that is part of the round-the-Bay trail.

The new path next to the frontage road is great for rollerblading. You can start at Gilman and go all the way to Emeryville. I typically go over the pedestrian bridge by University Ave., skate to Emeryville and back. Going up the ramp of the pedestrian bridge is really good exercise, going down is plain fun. The other path is from the Albany Race track (Costco side)past COSTCO (you can go around following the water to the Dog Park, or cross Central Ave. and continue from there. Both ways meet beyond the Post Office buildings there. You can take that trail all the way to Richmond Marina. It can be a little rough in some spots, but it is a beautiful trail. I don't know if there is a plan to connect both ends of the trail that are separated from the race track. Happy rolling. Roller blading mama

Try the bay trail that runs along I-80, on the bay side. It has several entry points, including one at the west end of Gilman Street, and seems to run from at least Richmond to Emeryville. It's smooth and flat. robin

Point Isbel sounds like what you're looking for. You can start at the dog park parking lot -- 80W to Central Ave. exit, left on Central and right at the patio furniture store (I don't know the street name - it's the block before Costco) -- and go for miles into Richmond. I think you can now go the other direction along the shoreline to Emeryville too, but I haven't tried it yet. Another, shorter, but still flat, round route is around Aquatic Park Estuary in Berkeley -- it takes my kids around 20 minutes on their bikes (I follow with rollerblades). Also around Cesar Chavez park at the Berkeley Marina is nice. Not entirely flat, but the hills are not like the steep parts of Inspiration point trail. Have fun

Try the Bay trail. The easiest place to get on it is at Central Avenue (down by Costco). Plenty of Parking at the Dog Park or right at Central and Jacuzzi Street. It can take you down to the Richmond Marina or Berkeley Marina, depending wchich way you want to go. The way to Richmond is very nice, paved trail, with a deli at the end of the trail. I see lots of rollerbladers there (I am a walker). Kerri

Point Isabel in Richmond (very near EC) is popular. David

Try the Richmond Marina - the flat pathway along the marina, or next to the bay, and you can't beat the beautiful scenery... Lisa

try the bike path at Pt Isabel. You can go towards emeryville or the richmond marina, quite a few miles, very smooth, no cross traffic, beautiful bay views. eve

Roller skates for a 3-year-old

Sept 2003

My almost 3 year old daughter desperately wants a pair of roller skates. Any recommendations for where to get some (besides Toys-R-Us) that are actually usable? The ones I've seen for little kids have lousy wheels that don't really turn. Lucy

If you want some really decent skates (I skated competitively when I was a kid--good skates can make or break a kid's first impression of the sport), check out this website: They have some decent, beginner kids' skates, at discount prices. Also, if she's really into it, you can try the beginner lessons at the rink in Hayward. They take kids as young as 3, as long as they fit into the skates. Happy Rolling! Skate Mom

Sketchers makes roller skates (''quads'') for adults and children. I think they end up around $60 dollars, which is a little pricey but I have a pair of the adult skates, and so far they are sturdy. Nothing crummy about the wheels, and some designs even have a glitter strips. Good luck... '80 roller skater

Where to buy adults' rollerblades

Sept 2003

I would like a recommendation for a place to buy rollerblades for myself. I have not bladed before, but I am a pretty good ice skater who can't get to a rink. Where are there knowledgeable staff who can help me pick a good skate at a decent price? thanks! denise

About 4 years ago I rented roller blades from Karim Cyclery on Telegraph (I think that's how it's spelled). It's around Blake or Parker-ish. After I was done renting them, they sold me the rollerblades for a really good price, along with a deal on elbow and knee guards. They also have new ones there and the staff seems to be pretty knowledgable and helpful (at least they were at that time). Have fun. June

Rollerblading lessons


Can anyone recommend 1. Rollerblading lessons (I'm pretty good but I still can't stop!) for adults and children. 2. A good place to rollerblade 3. Rollerblading parks? Thanks.

Liz Miller is a certified in-line skating teacher. She teaches through the East Bay Parks dept. (I don't know their number but it shouldn't be hard to find). She's great. I took a beginning adult class from her 2 summers ago. First thing she taught was how to put on all the equipment, why you should never ever skate without all of the safety equipment no matter how good you are, how to put on the skates, how to stand up, how to roll....and on and on...and how to stop, turn, etc. We did it at Miller Knox Park in Point Richmond. They have a big concrete slab there that's nice and smooth for pracaticing on. There's also a park in Alameda that she teaches at but I can't remember the name of it. Mira Vista Elementary School in East Richmond has a newly paved very big play yard thats great for roller blading. There is a book, also written by Liz Miller on places to roller blade in California. The book is broken down into geographical areas and further broken down by difficulty of trail. I'd definately try to get in touch with Liz. Have fun. June

The Berkeley marina has a great big loop for rollerblading, but you will need to know how to stop because there are hills! Also Iron Trail from Walnut Creek to Danville, I think (this one is pretty flat). I also used to pracitice on public tennis courts at night (when they are not in use).

I took a private lesson from a woman who seemed extremely competent and professional.

  Anna Stubbs  413 Central ave.  Alameda CA 94501  (510) 864-8644  annask8 AT  

This is web url for summer schedules: Rec. from Sherry Reinhardt--yes folks I did want to rollerblade before seriously injuring my ankle and may return as a senior skater. Sherry

Roller Hockey

My husband owns Dry Ice, a roller hockey rink in Oakland, off Hegenberger, just off 880. They have extensive kids' leagues that run throughout the year, and a very high level of play. They have beginner, intermediate and advanced leagues for each age division though. There are seven youth leagues, and the next league starts in September. Call 562-9499 for more information, or see the web site .
Bonnie (7/00)