This summer, UCSB marked off a pilot skateboard lane in the main campus corridor to judge the possibility of keeping the skate-friendly portion of the student body from thrashing the pedestrian and bike population.
The first of its kind at the university, the 5-foot wide path is considered a first attempt at a project to improve the safety of pedestrians and skateboarders alike. According to Ron Cortez, the associate vice chancellor and chair of the skateboard committee at UCSB, the skate lane, which consists of several hundred feet of paint, graphics and signs cost $12,500 to install.
Cortez said Summer and Fall traffic on the skate path will be guinea pigs so the university can judge if the paths are effective.
“The lane has emerged as a way to make the campus pathways safer for everyone,” Cortez said. “[The committee] will be judging closely throughout the Fall Quarter to see whether or not it works and how the students are reacting to it. It may make things safer, but then again it may make things difficult. It’s all going to decide whether we want to expand and put more lanes throughout campus in the future.”
With the implementation of the lane, skateboarders must now abide by it at all times and stay clear of the pedestrian pathways beside it.
Associated Students and the campus “Be Smart About Safety” fund matched the $7,500 that two students from the Skateboard Committee, Jose Magana and Raymond Collins, fundraised for the construction of the lane.
“Ray and I raised $7,500 for the lane and have done a lot to spread awareness for skateboarding safety,” Magana said. “I think this lane will reduce skateboard related injuries because pedestrians will have their own area to walk in. We just don’t have sufficient amounts of bike racks, so by skateboarding, it alleviates bike congestion on the paths.”
Of the total $15,000 allocated for the skate path, only $2,500 remains, Cortez said, in case the skate path is not received well and needs to be removed.
Magana said that if the lane proves to be a success, it will only make sense to install more lanes around campus. However, the most important thing right now, he said, is for skateboarders to unite and ensure that skateboarding doesn’t get banned.
Tina Cheng, a third-year comparative literature major who regularly skates to class, gave a skateboarder’s perspective on the new lane.
“I’m happy that there’s a lane because that means skateboarding won’t get banned anytime soon, but I am a bit skeptical about how the lane will work,” Cheng said. “Skateboarding has a different way of control than biking in a sense of its speed and direction. I’m sure there will be less crashes towards pedestrians, but there may be more crashes between skateboarders. The lane just seems too narrow for comfort.”
Magana noted he is currently in talks with Cortez for possible ways to get students accustomed to the new lane, one idea being a skateboarding education section in this summer’s freshman orientation.
“I saw a lot of people on campus looking at them in confusion,” Magana said. “I want to make sure that skateboarders know the laws and the rules so that everyone can get to class in peace.”
While the pavement of the skate lane may be rough and patchy in spots, Cortez said the whole campus corridor cement is scheduled for replacement in the next several years and no large-scale work is planned before that.