Opinion: Skating as transportation

Thomas Eppel, 20, English, skates to the bookstore. (Eric Gorman)

Eric Gorman

Struggling to find parking and taking the long walk across the campus can be trying; sometimes there’s just not enough time in the day. Many students choose skateboarding as a more timely means of getting to and from class, but according to the South Orange County Community College District (SOCCCD), that’s just not cool. Their Board Policy AR 3450 Sec. 206 states that, “No person shall ride a skateboard within the confines of the campus.”

“The Board policy is an effort to provide a safe environment for all students and staff,” Saddleback Interim Police Chief Christopher Wilkinson said. “Unlike bicycles, skateboards do not have brakes and/or steering which makes it difficult to stop and/or control under normal circumstances.”

For safety’s sake I agree, a policy is necessary, but lets make a new one:
‘Hey kook! If you don’t know how to ride that thing then get off of it!’

Skateboarding is a unique form of self-expression that requires some skill. If you haven’t acquired that skill, then you should restrict your participation to unpopulated areas where you’re not going to hurt anyone. (I don’t care if you hurt yourself, that’s a risk you take when you step on the board. Broken bones go with it… Suck it up chump.)

“Skating is a fast way to get to your classes,” Saddleback student Daniel Vargas, 19, said. “You shouldn’t get hassled for skating on campus.”

If you feel that you are capable of navigating what Wilkinson calls, “the college elevations, hilly terrain, confined areas and congested foot traffic,” then hit it up, but do so with restraint. Skate within your limits, and with respect for those around you. Maybe then the fuzz won’t give us so much guff for it.

As far as steering is concerned, skateboards are operated by same principal concepts as bicycles. There may be no handlebars, but both are primarily controlled by distributing weight to one side or the other. The only difference is that the skateboard is turned with pressure applied by the feet rather than the hands.

“Although SCPD [Saddleback College Police Department] may issue a citation for violation of Orange County Ordinance prohibiting skateboards on campus with a fine of $25.00,” Wilkinson said. “SCPD Officers, use officer discretion and provide verbal warnings and explain the board policy.”

Officer Young, Police Operations Lieutenant of Irvine Valley College, had a similar explanation, with one major difference:

“The district has rules, but there is no law against” skateboarding on campus, Young said. “We do enforce the policy, and issue a warning in the first case” by requesting that the individual pick up their board and walk. They never issue a citation according to Young, “but an extreme solution is to take formal action by writing an incident report that will go to the dean.” In which case, he informed me, the dean may take disciplinary action, as with any student misconduct issue.

There are some college campuses across the country, including USC, that allow skateboarding on campus as a means of transportation, according to Killeen Gonzalez, in her Yahoo Sports article “5 colleges that allow skateboarding on campus.” Their policies are constructed so that skating on campus is safe for the general populace: skaters must yield to pedestrians, no trick skating, and no skating in certain confined areas where the activity poses an inherent safety risk.

Even cities, including Los Angeles, Calif. and Portland, Ore., are developing more skater friendly policies.

Portland has “gained a reputation as being one of the most ‘skate friendly’ cities in the United States” an Oregon State leaflet claims. “Portland is one of the few cities to recognize skateboarding as a legitimate mode of transportation and give it the same legal rights as a bicycle.”

If major cities around the country can develop skater friendly regulations, then Saddleback College and the SOCCCD should have no problem establishing similar accommodations.

Here is the webpage that includes SOCCCD policy in question http://doclibrary.socccd.edu:2656/Documents/Business%20Services/Office%20of%20the%20Deputy%20Chancellor/AR-3450%20-Traffic%20and%20Parking%20Regulations.pdf

To see the Yahoo Sports article referenced above click here http://sports.yahoo.com/top/news?slug=ycn-9141607

Portland’s skate friendly policies http://skatefriendlypdx.com/

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