Skating Officially Banned on Ring Road

Nathan Doung/Photography Intern

Boarders beware. Skateboarding and other skating devices are banned on the campus core. Because biking only has certain riding restrictions, this leaves students who only skate without a means of quick and efficient transportation around campus.

The banning of skating devices on the core campus applies to not only skateboards and longboards, but also to roller blades and scooters as well.

“I don’t think it should be banned everywhere, same with the biking restrictions,” said Bryan Larson, a fourth-year student and President of the Bike Club at UCI. “I think it should be considered as deemed fit by an officer. If there are a lot of people on Ring Road when people are biking, then yes that rule should be enforced, but in other areas of less congestion, there is no reason for it.”

“I can see why they are banned because you’re always going to have a select few who are going to get in the way of a lot of people,” said Mudassir Mayet, a freshman physics major and scooter rider. “For a majority, it’s a faster way to get around campus, and it just makes it easier. Honestly, I don’t think it should be banned.”

The regulations held on biking prohibits bikers from riding on campus in the ring mall (Ring Road) area from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.; any biker caught violating the policy will be ticketed. Nevertheless, biking is allowed throughout the day in the biking lanes of the inner ring mall in Aldrich Park. The banning of skateboards on the core campus, on the other hand, leaves skaters with very little opportunity to maneuver around except for skating to campus from home.

“It is unfortunate,” said Mike Davis, the Intern Manager of Sustainable Transportation under Parking Transportation Services, whose job is to promote ride sharing instead of commuting alone.

“However, bikes with no breaks are not allowed on campus. State regulations require bikes to have brakes, so the problem with skateboards is that they don’t have breaks or handles. That is the distinction between them and a bike. We have had unfortunate accidents with skateboarders falling off and skateboards rolling ‘out of control’ into crowds.”

According to Davis as well as Chief Paul Henisey of the UC Irvine Police Department, skateboarding used to be banned from even residential areas, but through the work of groups such as the Parking and Transportation services, the UCI Police Department, the Bicycle Advisory Group, and Facilities Management, the restriction on residential areas (apartments, dorms) was eventually lifted. The revision allowed students to skate on the core campus classroom areas.

“At this point there has been no specific effort to make changes to the restriction,” said Chief Henisy, “but part of the issue is that we have had pretty significant accidents involving skateboards which really do not support the lifting of the restrictions on campus core. One of the things we wanted to do was at least let people use their skateboards to get to the core campus and recognize that it’s not the best method for people with skateboards to get around, but in terms of trying to mix multiple uses, that really is the only solution we can provide at this point.”

UCI offers plenty of alternatives via biking in response to the prohibition of skateboarding on campus. Bike rental stations are present at locations around the campus. In addition, bicycle education programs such as the Bicycle Education and Enforcement program (BEEP), function to make UCI a safe, convenient and bicycle-friendly campus.

Another available option is public transportation. Buses and shuttles, such as the Anteater Express, also give students alternative methods of transportation if students have neither a bike nor skateboard.

Websites such as Zimride make the commuting experience social by helping UCI students to locate fellow Irvine commuters to ride with.

Due to the cost of purchasing and maintaining a bike, as well as rising public transportation fees, many students have little choice other than skateboarding.

“In all honesty, for most of the kids who skate here, it’s probably a good thing because they don’t know how to skateboard,” said Ryan Johnson, a 2011 UCI alumnus and manager of the Bike Religion bike shop.

“But while I see the dangers for why there should be regulations, I don’t feel that it should be banned from the campus. It’s a way for kids to get around and a lot of kidsdon’t have a bike and skate instead. Instead of saying ‘No Skateboarding,’ maybe say ‘Mandatory Helmet.’”

Public safety issues as an argument for banning skateboarding must be weighed against the safety of other allowed vehicles on Ring Road, such as the electric carts.

“I think it’s unfair that they have a cart,” said Maximillian Chih, a second-year biology major and long-boarder. According to Chih, the carts pose a larger threat to pedestrian safety than both the banned safety devices and bikes.

“If you think about it, a cart is going to be heavier than a bike. [Although the carts] might not go faster, and both have brakes, but if I were to pick for one of them to hit me, I would prefer a bike.  I don’t feel like it is fair for [some] people to drive around golf carts and [other] people can’t bike or skate during the day. In most cases I feel they do go faster, and it’s a metal object and it’s huge,” Chih said.

The electric carts driven on campus are maintained by the Department of Environmental Health and Safety.

“I know carts are heavier, but they are safer in the sense that they do have a braking system” said a student cart driver who wanted to remain anonymous.

“For us to drive carts we need training and to learn to drive safe. With skateboarders you can have beginners who are just skating around and don’t know what they are doing. We’re trying to be more conscious about health and safety.”

While a speed limit is not imposed on the carts, cart drivers are encouraged to be road-conscious. Most carts are known to reach maximum speeds of up to 20 miles per hour. According to an anonymous cart driver who also happens to be an avid skateboarder, some accidents have occurred due to irresponsible cart driving.

“You never know who is involved with potential skateboarding accidents,” said Chih.

According to Chih, skateboards should not simply be equated with safety hazards, because accidents can be due to a variety of environmental factors.

“Someone involved in the accident could have been on their iPod. Why not ban iPods? If people weren’t paying attention, maybe they wouldn’t have gotten hit. There are a lot of different factors, and I don’t think it’s fair that skateboards be completely banned.”

Efforts to start a potential skateboarding educational program are being debated, but as for now, skaters will either have to take their chances and sneak past the eye of UCIPD or just deal with the banning.

Students can look up precise locations where skating and skating devices are banned at the following website:

http://www.myucirvine.com/news/student-life/uci-a-no-skate-school-20111024