Citing safety concerns, UCSB’s administration announced a ban on skateboarding through the Arbor-Davidson Library Plaza during times of high traffic.
Following surveys and public discussions, the university’s skateboarding safety committee decided to prohibit skateboarding in the location between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. beginning Jan. 19. According to the committee’s release, the UC Police Dept. will be enforcing the new rule as of Feb. 8 in order to grant students a three-week grace period.
Jose Magana, UCSB’s student-elected Residence Hall Association president and one of the two student members of the skateboarding safety committee, said the decision to blockade skaters from the Arbor and library area was a necessary evil.
“I’ve been on the committee since my sophomore year, and I’m not for skateboarding bans,” Magana said. “The thing is that the Arbor area is really, really dangerous. The way I looked at it is if there is a major accident there that could cause a bigger ban and ruin it for the rest of campus.”
Associate Vice Chancellor of Administrative Affairs Ron Cortez — a member of the skateboarding committee — said this is not part of a plan to institute a campuswide ban.
“I don’t think anyone should be concerned that this is a step toward banning skateboarding, but that it is a step toward adding to our resources,” Cortez said.
When UCPD officers begin to issue tickets to errant skateboarders in the Arbor-Davidson Library Plaza, the enforcement process will most likely mirror the existing guidelines for bicycle violations on campus, Magana said.
Sam Stewart, a third-year biology major, said that the ban is bound to draw mixed reactions from the campus.
“I mean, it sucks,” Stewart said. “I don’t skateboard — I bike — but this will definitely have negative and positive aspects. There will be less accidents, but people have probably grown so accustomed to [skating through the now-prohibited area] that there will be a lot of negative outcomes.”
Cortez noted that the safety committee has already implemented a number of measures to mitigate skateboarding issues, such as increasing enforcement in existing prohibited areas, adding caution signs in dangerous zones and implementing a skateboarding-only lane along the Pardall pedestrian corridor.
“The way I’d like to try to explain this is this is part, really, of a comprehensive approach for the skate community and the campus,” Cortez said. “The plan included more education of the students, more involvement, more skateboard lanes and more skateboarders being able to use campus transportation routes safely and effectively.”
According to Cortez, the committee’s research showed that one out of four respondents had reported being hit by a skateboard on campus. In addition, he said, data from Director of Student Health Dr. Elizabeth Downing has suggested that injurious skateboarding collisions have dropped by nearly half over the past year, a statistic she attributes to the committee’s work.
For the future, Magana said, the committee aims to improve the existing skateboarding infrastructure. No further skateboard bans are currently in consideration for UCSB.
“We talked about having a new lane,” Magana said. “We’re not really quite sure yet, but we almost definitely want another lane. As for banning other places, we don’t want to at all. I’m not okay with banning it anywhere else.”
UCPD and CSOs will be holding an education campaign beginning Tuesday to warn skaters that they can no longer shred everywhere on campus. Magana also noted that the newly banned area will see heavy infrastructure construction next month that will refinish the zone with cement not conducive to skateboarding.
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