Written by Kimberly Cannon, Staff Writer
Bicycling is allowed and so is driving a utility vehicle, but according to the lone sign at the end of the pedestrian mall at Valdosta State University, skateboarding is not permitted on the campus mall.
Despite the no skateboarding rule, numerous individuals are spotted skating on the mall.
The lack of visibility of signs displaying the no skateboarding rule may be one reason for it being disregarded.
Matthew Godwin, a freshman computer science major, said he was unaware that skateboarding was not allowed on the pedestrian mall.
However, Ted Brown, a freshman biology major, said he believed ignorance is not the reason for the no skateboarding rule being broken.
“I feel like there shouldn’t be a [no skateboarding] rule because it’s going to get disregarded,” Brown said.
Though it is overlooked, one main reason for the no skateboarding rule may be for safety.
“It [people skateboarding on the mall] kind of makes me nervous,” said Esmerelda Eichler, a senior psychology major. “I don’t want to get hurt.”
However, some students are indifferent about the presence of skateboarders.
“It doesn’t really affect me,” Godwin said, “as long as people [skateboarders] are considerate.”
Skateboarders should be mindful of their surroundings and pedestrians, and when that is the case skateboarding is, arguably, a safer activity than bicycling. Fewer accidents occur with skateboards than with bicycles, according to National Electronic Injury Surveillance System data highlights for 2015.
In 2015, there were approximately 497,134 bicycle related injuries, compared to only 125,145 skateboard related injuries, according to NEISS.
“I feel like it [skateboarding] is safe,” Brown said.
Both skateboarding and cycling are convenient forms of transportation, which are harmless to others and the environment if used responsibly.
“The reality is that skateboards are used every day by thousands of people, predominantly youth, not only for recreational purposes, but as a convenient, compact and economical mode of transportation,” Curt Loch, owner of Elite Products and Design, said on recmanagment.com.
“Please don’t penalize all skateboarders because of a few isolated incidents,” Loch said regarding liability and property damage issues.
Finding joy in exercise, such as skateboarding, doesn’t seem like something to discourage, especially in Georgia where approximately 30 percent of adults are obese, according to The State of Obesity website.
In Tessa Walker’s dissertation research for Portland State University, she found that skateboarding was utilized by study participants as a fun form of transportation.
“Focus group participants elaborated, describing skating as a way to take ownership or enjoyment of trips which – especially as teenagers – sometimes felt like obligations beyond their control, such as traveling to school,” Walker said in her dissertation Skateboarding as Transportation: Findings from an Exploratory Study.
If the no skateboarding rule is frequently unenforced, the majority of students and property are unaffected by skateboarding and skateboarding promotes exercise in a country that suffers from inactivity and obesity, then the rule should not exist.