New Campus Policy Seeks to Curb Reckless Skateboard and Bicycle Use

Policy to be publicized as part of larger campus safety and security campaign

skateboard with text on it.

Handouts and posters like this one will help let the campus community know of the new policy on reckless riding. Graphic by Student Affairs Communications

RIVERSIDE, Calif. (www.ucr.edu) — Skateboarders, bicyclists and riders of other wheeled vehicles will be asked to slow down and not perform tricks and stunts on UC Riverside property as part of a new campus-wide policy that prohibits reckless riding.

The new policy, which was proposed by former Chancellor Timothy P. White last year and approved by Interim Chancellor Jane Close Conoley, will be rolled out throughout fall quarter as part of a larger campus-wide safety and security program that has been developed by the Campus Safety Task Force over the last few months. The program will include the installation bicycle security cages and lockers to reduce bicycle theft as well as a student awareness campaign that hopes to reduce the incidents of robberies and thefts of electronic devices around the campus.

The new policy defines “reckless” as using a wheeled vehicle on campus property “in a manner that endangers public safety, threatens university property or disrupts university operations.” It does not prohibit the use of skateboards, scooters or bicycles as general transportation. Students who violate the policy may be referred to the Student Conduct & Academic Integrity Program, while staff and faculty violators will be reported to the appropriate dean or department head. Individuals not affiliated with UCR will be asked to leave the campus.

“We want to make very clear that this policy is not a ban on skateboarding or cycling on campus,” said Interim Vice Chancellor of FBO & CIO Charles J. Rowley. “These wheeled vehicles are useful, environmentally-friendly commuter tools that students rely upon on a daily basis. However, in the interest of campus safety, we need to address problem areas such as excess speed or trick riding that can endanger individuals or cause damage to university property.”

bike running stop sign

A bicyclist runs the stop sign at the corner of North Campus Road and Lot 15. Photo by Ross French

Rowley added that the policy is not solely directed at the UCR campus community, but also to outsiders who come to the campus on evenings and weekends specifically to perform skate and bicycle tricks.

The campus had seen an increase in complaints about reckless riding, with issues including excess speed of cyclists and skateboarders and tricks being performed in heavy pedestrian areas, such as the Bell Tower Plaza and the Highlander Union Building. There have also been complaints about the noise made by the boards hitting the ground as riders repeatedly attempt tricks.

“In the 2012 calendar year the UC Police Department responded to 45 calls of complaints regarding reckless skateboarding or stunting. In the first half of 2013, that number had already reached 39,” said Chief of Police Mike Lane. “So we are on a pace to surpass last year’s total.”

He added that over the 18 months between January 2012 and July 1, 2013 there were a total of 21 reports of injuries or medical aid requests on campus, with 12 involving bicycles, seven involving skateboards and two involving scooters.

Lane reminded all riders to abide by all traffic laws, including cyclists riding on the correct side of the road and obeying stop signs, and to always make way for pedestrians.

“Pedestrians always have the right of way on sidewalks,” he said. “If a skateboard or bicycle rider enters an area with high-pedestrian traffic, we encourage them to dismount and ‘walk their wheels’ until it is safe to ride again.”

damage to railing and steps

Skateboarders and bicyclists performing tricks at the Bell Tower plaza have caused thousands of dollars of damage over the years. Photo by Ross French

Financial considerations also played a part in the adoption of the policy.

Over the last decade, the university has spent thousands of dollars to repair damage caused by skateboard riders performing tricks, including more than $110,000 since the 2005-06 school year to repair damage to the tile and steps around the Bell Tower, a frequent hangout of skaterboarders who are attracted by the site’s ramps and ledges. The skateboard wheels can shatter tiles as riders attempt to land tricks, and steps, railings and benches become scratched and marred by riders attempting to “grind” their way along their surface.

“The Bell Tower area can easily fall into disrepair in a short amount of time, and repair work on the tiles can be very expensive,” said Greg Artman, director of Plant Administration at UCR, who oversees the repair work. “This damage is not solely caused by skateboarders, but they do play a major part.”

“There is a finite amount of money earmarked for repairs to UCR facilities,” Rowley said. “The same money that is going to fix the damage to these pedestrian corridors could be going to repairs and upgrades in classrooms and other campus facilities.”

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