If all goes well, the skateboard path that UCSB added this summer could be a permanent addition to campus.
The first of its kind at the university, the five-foot-wide skate path stretches several hundred feet between the Humanities and Social Sciences Building and Davidson Library. According to a survey conducted by the UCSB Skateboard Committee, a majority of skateboarding accidents now occur within the lane, which bodes well for pedestrians — but perhaps not the skaters.
However, the skate lane has not prevented all collisions; dangerous conditions and reckless behavior have caused some painful accidents in the lane. The survey revealed that 25 percent of all pedestrians have reported being hit by a skateboard at some time on campus and 24 percent of the victims reported sustaining an injury from the accident.
While accidents have not ceased altogether, Associate Vice Chancellor of Administrative Services Ron Cortez, chair of the campus skateboard committee, said the lane has been effective thus far in protecting pedestrians, bikers and skateboarders alike.
“The feedback from the students indicates that the skateboard lane has so far been successful,” Cortez said. “But I don’t want to generalize and say that it is the long term solution to reducing accidents.”
However, support for the skate lane has not been universal. Jacob Johnson, a second-year political science major, said the narrow path has created a new set of problems for skateboarders, especially on rainy days.
“I think that the skateboard lane is a good idea, but there are often puddles on the path,” Johnson said.
The Skateboard Committee — a campus organization consisting of students, administrators and police officers — advocated and partially funded the construction of the new path. The Associated Students’ “Be Smart About Safety” program matched the $7,500 that two students from the committee, Jose Magana and Raymond Collins, raised for construction costs.
A total of $15,000 was collected for the project, which cost $12,500 to implement. The money paid for paint, graphics and signs, and the remainder has been put aside to finance the lane’s possible removal if it fails to move past the pilot stage.
Cortez said the current skate path is only the beginning of possible reform. If the lane continues to be effective, he said, the school may implement further skateboard lanes in areas of heavy pedestrian-skater traffic.