Following an onslaught of safety complaints, the university will host a meeting to discuss the future of skateboarding on campus.
For nearly two years, the university administration has sought to reach a decision about the current skateboard regulations on campus. With a range of suggestions on the table – from making minor rule revisions to enforcing an all-out ban – the university has convened a committee to review skateboarding safety on campus and consider potential solutions. In order to address the issue, the committee will hold an open meeting Nov. 6 at 5 p.m. in the San Nicolas Lounge.
Several UC campuses – including UC Santa Cruz, UC Irvine and UC San Diego – have already instituted skateboarding bans. UCLA and UC Davis only allow skating in select locations.
Associate Vice Chancellor Ron Cortez said students set on protecting existing skateboarding rules should plan to attend the upcoming regulations meeting.
“In my opinion, it’s very important for students to attend this meeting,” Cortez said. “Students can add a lot of good input – it can be a good forum and a positive thing. Let’s do this together.”
According to Cortez, the university administration formed a committee in the spring of 2007 to research the current conditions for skateboarders on campus. The group will analyze skateboard-related injuries and pedestrians’ experiences in order to make recommendations to the university.
The committee is also leading an effort to encourage safety amongst skaters in order to prevent a possible ban. Ray Collins, a fifth-year computer science major and committee member, said many students are unaware of current skateboarding regulations.
“It’s illegal to skate through the Pardall Tunnel, but a lot of people don’t know that,” Collins said. “A sign was just put up on Friday, but just because there’s a sign doesn’t mean people will pay attention to it. We hope this meeting will help educate skateboarders.”
According to Cortez, the discussion of a possible skateboarding ban emerged from complaints submitted by people across campus.
“First, there were complaints from faculty, staff and students regarding their experience with skateboarders,” Cortez said. “Secondly, there were a lot of skateboarding injuries or close calls. We all share the same theme, which [is] for skateboarders to be polite, cautious and safe while using the sidewalks on campus.”
Cortez noted that skateboard related injuries occur at Pardall Tunnel, Phelps Hall and the area between Davidson Library and the Arbor.
Bill Blessington, a third-year year biology major, said any regulations for skating on campus would strain UCSB’s already crowded bike paths and threaten the skateboarding community.
“I would miss high-fiving people [while skating]. It totally makes my day,” Blessington said. “[If skateboarding on campus was banned], the bike paths would be even more crowded. I’ve seen way more bad bike accidents [than skateboarding accidents].”
However, Student Health Director Dr. Elizabeth Downing said skateboarding injuries have been on the rise since last spring.
She said at this time last year, the ratio of skateboard injuries to bike injuries was one to five. Spring Quarter, though, saw 56 skateboard injuries compared to 99 bicycle injuries – a one to two ratio.