Worst-Case Wednesday: How to Jump from Rooftop to Rooftop

Posted by Basia Padlo

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Maybe you're playing live action Assassin's Creed. Maybe you're trying to become the next Spring-Heeled Jack. Maybe you're trying out your newfound spider powers. Maybe you just like the idea of running across rooftops. Whatever the reason, not all of us just know how to safely jump from rooftop to rooftop. Not to worry, however. The Worst-Case Scenario Handbook: Travel has a comprehensive guide to rooftop jumping, for all your vigilante needs.

Look for any obstructions if you have time.
You may have to clear short walls, gutters or other obstacles as well as the space between buildings.

Check your target building.
Make certain that you have enough space to land and roll. If the target building is lower than your building, assess how much lower it is. You risk broken ankles or legs if there is more than a one-story differential in the buildings. If there are two stories or more, you risk a broken back.

Check the distance between the buildings.
Most people cannot jump farther than 10 feet, even at a full run. If the buildings are farther apart than this distance, you risk catastrophic injury or death. You must clear the distance and land on the other roof, or be able to grab onto a ledge on the other side. If the target building is lower, your forward momentum will continue to carry you even as you fall, so you may be able to leap a greater distance—though probably not more than about 12 feet. You could successfully leap a span across an alley, but not a two-lane road.

Pick a spot for take off and a spot for landing.

Run at full speed toward the ledge.
You must be running as fast as possible to attempt a leap of a distance more than a few feet. You will need 40 to 60 feet of running room to develop enough speed to clear about 10 feet.

Make sure your center of gravity is over the edge of your target building in case your whole body doesn't clear the span and you have to grab hold. Jump with your arms and hands extended and ready to grab the ledge.

Try to land on your feet, then immediately tuck your head and tumble sideways onto your shoulders, not forward onto your head.
Because you will not be moving fast, it is safe to roll head over heels, unlike jumping from a moving vehicle.