Allow skateboards on Penn State's Campus
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Recently riding home from class, I was stopped by a police officer who told me skateboards are not allowed anywhere on campus. A quick search of Penn State's policies turned up this:
"SKATEBOARDS, SCOOTERS, IN-LINE SKATES/ROLLER SKATES, AND SIMILAR DEVICES
The use of skateboards on campus is prohibited. Roller skates, in-line skates, scooters (excluding medical), sleds, and similar coasting devices are not vehicles and are prohibited in roadways. Persons on such devices are pedestrians for traffic control purposes and may be cited for applicable violations of the Pennsylvania Vehicle Code.
In addition to restrictions imposed by the Pennsylvania Vehicle Code, the following prohibitions apply to the operation of roller skates, in-line skates, scooters, sleds, and similar coasting devices on the campus:
No person shall coast or ride upon any roller skates, in-line skates, scooter, sled, or similar device upon any roadway, parking area, or bicycle route, or within any building on the campus. Nor shall any person coast or ride upon any sled or similar device upon any sidewalk or improved surface used only for pedestrian traffic. Persons may coast or ride upon roller skates, in-line skates or scooters on sidewalks, provided they yield the right-of-way to pedestrians on foot. No acrobatics of any kind are permitted.
Students or employees violating these regulations are subject to disciplinary action by the University. Any other persons violating these prohibitions may be cited for Criminal Trespass for continued or repeated violations of these regulations on the campus."
Anyone who has walked down Pollock road during the day knows Penn State has a large population of penny boarders, skateboarders, longboarders, and all other kinds of skateboards. Most of these skaters are not grinding the rails outside of the HUB, or doing hardflips off the steps of the Boucke building. Instead, it seems that most of these students are simply riding a longboard or penny board to get to class on time.
With only fifteen minutes between class, sometimes walking is not quick enough. Many would point to cycling as a valid answer to this problem. State College is, however, no stranger to cycling related deaths. In January of 2017, a man was killed on a bicycle on S. Atherton st. Also, riding a bicycle down busy roads is more dangerous than riding a skateboard when students constantly have to slam on the brakes to avoid others crossing the road without looking. To have a policy banning skateboards seems ridiculous when bicycles are allowed to fly down the road.
Penn State has replied to petitions on this topic before, stating that skateboards are banned on campus in hopes to cut down on damage to University property. However, those riding penny boards and longboards to class shouldn't be disallowed to ride responsibly on the roads where they are not damaging any property.
Another concern of the University Police is that skateboards are hard for drivers to maneuver around and cause accidents. Yet, skateboarders take up less space on the road than cyclists do. As a skateboarder who rode as a professional cyclist for years, I can vouch that cars have less trouble maneuvering around me on a skateboard at 8 mph than they would if I were traveling 20 mph on a bicycle.
Some solutions include registering skateboards similarly to a bike with regulations on common skateboards that are often used for "acrobatics." Or if the university doesn't want to have more registration, have police give tickets for those "grinding" rails, and let those on penny boards and longboards enjoy their passion.
A 2015 petition on this topic gained over 500 signatures and the university did nothing about it. After 3 years of the ban, skateboarders still enjoy cruising respectably to their next class, even with the risk of a $75 fine. If that is not a form of a petition in itself for the Penn State administration, here is an official one.
Please sign this petition and pass it onto your friends who skateboard, and also those who do not but support students right to continue their passion. Share it on Facebook and Twitter, put it on your Linkedin. One person emailing the Policy office may not do anything, but if we all band together as lovers of skateboarding, we can do what we love without fear of disciplinary action.
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