Skitching (‘ski-hitching’ or ‘skate-hitching’) is the act of hitching a ride by holding onto a motor vehicle while riding on a skateboard, roller skates or bicycle. It is also sometimes referred to as ‘bumper hitching,’ ‘bumpershining,’ or ‘poggying.’ When done on icy or snowy streets it’s often called ‘bizzing,’ ‘bumper jumping,’ or ‘hooky bobbing. When a snowboard is used it is called ‘snitching.’ The term ‘skitching’ can refer to a number of related activities. The unifying concept is that the ‘skitcher’ holds onto a motorized vehicle while it is in motion, using the vehicle to propel themselves along.
Skateboard skitching is the most referenced type of skitching in news sources and popular culture, but not the most practiced in reality. It has appeared in films and video games, and is confirmed to be the cause of death for a number of skateboarders. Some drivers are willing participants in skateboard skitching, which can open them up to legal action in the event of an accident. Because skitching is often done in traffic, on inadequate equipment for the speeds traveled, and sometimes without the knowledge of the driver of the vehicle, there is significant potential for injury or death. Skateboarding celebrity Tony Hawk has advocated against the practice of skitching due to the related deaths and injuries.
Likely more common than other varieties of skitching, bicycle skitching is frequently practiced by bicycle messengers in urban areas, with drivers who are most often unaware of the activity. Bicycle skitching is not associated with as many deaths or injuries as other varieties, which may be due to the fact that bicycles are safer to operate at high speed than skateboards and other modes of skitching.
Snow skitching may have been started by students who were dropped off from their bus, and used the bus to skitch closer to home so they wouldn’t have to walk. The chromed metal bumpers of the late fifties provided a good grip to gloved fingers. Car speeds were quite slow due to icy conditions. It was not encouraged but was widely practiced.
In motorcycle skitching, the driver of the motorcycle flips their legs over the saddle and drags their feet on the ground while holding onto the handlebars. This is similar to ‘ghost-riding’ in motor vehicles in which a person exits their moving vehicle, and dances beside and around it. Motorcycle skitching requires metal plates on the soles of the rider’s shoes to protect them from the road surface.