How suitable is the campus for skateboarding? Skaters and Campus Planners Take Action | New
Thomas Buchmann preferred skateboarding to walking when cruising around campus. He found it the easiest way to move between classes and let off steam.
However, his attitude towards skating has since changed. Last year, the sophomore finance student broke his leg skating behind PMAC. He hasn’t skated since.
“There was a bend and I couldn’t see a car coming until I was near the bottom. So I went out of the way and hit a traffic arm trying to avoid the car, ”Buchmann said. “I was going really fast and that’s what broke my [tibia and fibula]. “
He thinks what happened to him could have been avoided if he was riding on sidewalks rather than on the road. But some campus sidewalks are unsuitable for skaters trying to navigate campus, he said.
“Sidewalks and roads are [both] pretty messed up with twigs, a bunch of cracks and different things that make it hard to drive around campus, ”Buchmann said.
Repairing the dilapidated paved areas of the campus, especially the sidewalks, is a major concern of Assistant Campus Planning Chair Dennis Mitchell as he works to make the campus safer and more accessible to various modes of transportation in order prevent further injuries like Buchmann’s.
“Every day we fix trip hazards and identify issues with how to make our sidewalks without any elevation change so they are smooth,” Mitchell said.
The condition of the campus sidewalks is such that skaters like Buchmann and his friends had no choice but to hit the road and face the traffic through and around campus.
Mitchell said his Campus Planning team has started making changes to the campus infrastructure to make it as accommodating as possible for skaters.
One of Mitchell’s main goals in making the campus more accessible is to completely eliminate on-street parking and introduce bike lanes. He said these efforts are being made to “open the line of sight” for students using the streets and sidewalks.
“The biggest danger we have is when someone on a skateboard approaches a crosswalk at high speed, cars can’t see them. So we want to eliminate the cars [parked] on the road and I definitely want people with skateboards to watch out for crosswalks and be careful, ”Mitchell said.
The bike lanes, Mitchell said, would allow the campus to be shared by more students than before.
The changes he called for also include improving sidewalk accessibility, installing more ramps, and partnering with the student government to install skateboard locking brackets.
Some skaters have discovered that the campus is already well suited to their lifestyle with the changes Mitchell is starting to implement.
Although she owns a car, first-year architecture student Skylar Vollmer finds using her green leaf-shaped longboard to be a much more efficient mode of transportation.
“There are a lot of stops in my car and with pedestrians around you end up moving faster on a skateboard,” Vollmer said.
After skating since sixth grade in her home state of Virginia, Vollmer said when she skateboarded she felt smoother than a bicycle or scooter, while still allowing her to get out of the heat faster.
“It’s really cool to skate on the LSU campus with the big buildings passing by,” she said. “You feel like a movie star.”
Andrew Nguyen, a freshman in computer science, thinks skating is really useful for getting to class. After a spell without skating after high school, a week after starting school, Nguyen picked it up after noticing how long it would take him to cross campus.
He said a 20-minute walk is reduced to about seven minutes if he’s on his skateboard.
Skaters like Vollmer and Nguyen have to face pedestrians if they want to use sidewalks. Sometimes that can be a barrier to their own mobility, the first-year skaters said.
“When it’s a time when everyone’s out, I can’t really skate. I really don’t want to meet people, ”Nguyen said.
Nguyen said that it is rare for him to cross paths with someone on his board, but when it does, he has only had positive experiences.
“I don’t know if I was lucky, but everyone is really nice about it,” Nguyen said.
Vollmer’s experience has not been so positive. She said people tend to be a bit more rude to people who use alternative means of transportation like bikes and boards.
“I don’t see why they get so angry when you come up behind them,” she said. “When a skateboarder comes towards you, he can always bail out. “
The main difficulty Vollmer encountered while skating was trying to get to Tiger Band Hall, whose sidewalks are “sometimes too bad” to skate, Vollmer said. She believes that the renovation of old sidewalks that Mitchell has started is essential to improving the quality of life for skaters on campus.
Describing himself as a “mobility champion,” Mitchell said he was okay with skaters using their boards to get around campus, but problems start to arise when they use their boards to perform. “Dangerous stunts” in high traffic areas of campus.
Buchmann rejects this notion, arguing that the university must allow skaters to use places like low traffic areas and parking lots, housing the infamous “no skateboarding” signs, to practice stunts and have carte blanche. in their skating.
“I don’t see why it’s a problem for us to skate there,” said Buchmann. “We are away from people who walk to class and just practice on level ground. We’re not spoiling anything.