Skateboarding into danger

William Evans

Will Taylor does not look both ways before crossing the street.

Taylor, a senior majoring in journalism, rides a skateboard on campus streets. He skates from his house on Reed Street to Reese Phifer Hall on weekdays, sometimes rolling into the middle of the road as he weaves between cars.

“I don’t know if I’ll be doing that now,” he said when told about the collision outside of ten Hoor on Monday.

Taylor knows of two friends who have been hit by cars while riding bikes on campus. Last semester, while eating at Swen Chinese Restaurant, he said he looked up from his plate to see a female student lying in the road. A car hit her, as well.

“I think, unfortunately, that it frequently occurs,” he said of cars hitting student pedestrians on campus. “I guess it boils down to preoccupied driving and stress.”

Taylor prefers to skateboard on the street rather than the sidewalk because of the smooth surface of asphalt. He said he rides only on University Boulevard, though, because campus streets and sidewalks are too crowded and noisy for a smooth ride.

According to Chris Bryant, a spokesman for UA, when Taylor, or any student, is on a skateboard, state law understands Taylor to be a pedestrian.

“Skateboarders are considered pedestrians primarily because they are in the street on something other than a defined vehicle,” Bryant said in an emailed statement.

Bryant added that the University dislikes the use of skateboards because of the increased likelihood of collisions occurring between skateboarders and vehicles, such as Monday’s collision.

“Skateboards are not apparently specifically prohibited in UA policy, but their usage is frowned upon, I’m told, because of the increased potential for the type of accident that occurred today,” he said in the emailed statement on Monday.

When asked where students ought to ride recreational transportation devices such as skateboards or bikes, Bryant said location is less to the point than responsible decision making.

“It’s not an issue of where they can be ridden, but how carefully they should be ridden,” he said. “If you are walking or skateboarding within a pedestrian crosswalk, state law prohibits you from suddenly or carelessly darting into the street.

“And, when skateboards are used on campus for recreational trick-riding, this can result in property damage, including scrapes and gouges on sidewalks, handrails and curbs. Students who damage UA property as a result of their careless use of a skateboard could be issued a Student Non-Academic Misconduct citation.”

The University does have bike lines set to the side of some campus streets, such as along University Boulevard and Hackberry Lane, but that geographic separation for bikes and vehicles does not mean bikes fall under different regulations in state law.

“Bicycles are considered just like vehicles, and, when on the road, the rider should adhere to all of the same laws and considerations applicable to motor vehicles,” Bryant said.