Other Campuses: Menacing skateboards?

By Oregon Daily Emerald

(U-WIRE) EUGENE, Ore. – This year, the Eugene Police Department will enforce a city ordinance that bans skateboarding on East 13th Avenue from Kincaid Street to Pearl Street. In response to business owners complaining about an upsurge in skateboarders, riders will be ticketed $50 and potentially have their skateboards confiscated.

Pedestrian safety is an important concern, and one often sees skateboarders weaving between pedestrians on streets and sidewalks. Yet it seems outlandish that the police would spend time and energy hanging around East 13th Avenue and waiting to catch skateboarders. This action is just one of a string of law enforcement policies that attempt to create public safety, but only seem to hinder students of the University campus. Last year, the Department of Public Safety decided to start citing campus bicyclists a $25 fine for riding on sidewalks or for failing to yield to pedestrians. Skateboarders became subject to the fines as well.

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As usual, bicyclists and skateboarders got the short end of the transportation stick. These policies give both cars and pedestrians the right of way over bikes and skateboarders. Bikers and boarders have limited access to the sidewalk, and limited access to the street; on portions of East 13th Avenue, skateboarders have access to neither. Bike lanes around campus are often one way, forcing people traveling in the opposite direction to either ride next to automobiles or on the sidewalk. Bicyclists and skaters are usually soaking wet, cold and exhausted by the time they reach campus. Fining these riders is unfair to the people who have chosen alternative modes of transportation.

Assigning Eugene Police Department and Department of Public Safety officers to catch skateboarders and bicyclists who skirt rules of the road is an ineffective use of University and city resources. If the DPS wishes to actually increase the safety of the public on campus, they ought to consider creating more clearly marked bike lanes and crosswalks at the East 13th Avenue and University intersection, as well as attempting to inform pedestrians how to stay out of the way of bike and skateboard traffic.

The current traffic solution – forcing a few boarders or bikers a day to pay fines – is not making the University area any safer. As anyone walking across campus can see, bicyclists and skaters still appear on sidewalks and pedestrians still lollygag across East 13th Avenue, especially when police aren’t there. And everyone still needs to look both ways before crossing an intersection.

The issue of bicycle, skateboard and pedestrian traffic should be one of respect rather than citations and fines. As long as bicyclists and skateboarders use caution and verbal alerts, and pedestrians are alert to their surroundings, we can all make our way around the campus area with ease. Recent citation policies by the Department of Public Safety and the Eugene Police department are unnecessary additions to this transportation equation.