By Victoria Mejicanos, Feb. 28, 2023
We’ve all been there. You are walking mindlessly when, without your consent, an object wooshes past you narrowly missing you. You tense up and realize it wasn’t a bird or a superhero but a human on a skateboard.
If it is not a skateboard, it is a bike, scooter or some other electric form of transportation.
The most amusing part to me is that this happens every day, rain or shine. I am on campus every day of the week and even when it seems empty, there is always someone skating down a hill or riding a bike. I honestly cannot imagine any reason why multiple people would be speeding down a hill in the rain at 8 p.m. on a Tuesday, but it happens anyway.
As someone who is barely 5 feet tall, the wind that comes from the woosh alone feels like it will lift me away. It is anxiety-inducing and dangerous. Also, with most students using electric forms of transportation, sometimes they cannot even be heard. How do you expect me to move out of the way if I can’t even hear you?
Students on wheels can often come off as if they feel entitled to the small roads and sidewalks on campus when the road is a shared space. There is no need to take up almost the entire path, and not even think about warning other students that another person is coming. I once saw a student speeding down a hill using one wheel of their bike with no clear direction, constantly swerving and barely missing students.
The entire world is constantly glued to their phones. Students will not always see a skateboard or bike coming at them with no warning.
I have seen multiple people leave in ambulances after being hit by a student on wheels. What bothers me the most about these accidents is that they are completely preventable. Had the person that hit them bothered to slow down, or warn them that they were coming, it would have prevented a hefty hospital bill. That is the last thing students would need to add to our already overwhelming number of expenses.
These harmful accidents come as no surprise, since I have not seen one student wear safety gear such as a helmet or knee pads. This is alarming since traumatic brain injury usually occurs with a violent blow or jolt to the head or body, according to Mayo Clinic.
Traumatic brain injury can cause permanent changes to the brain and might even lead to death. A hit to the head could leave students with long-term symptoms. It can cause serious, irreversible change. Skating is an entertaining hobby, but its risks should not be ignored.
A popular transportation device I have seen many students use is the Onewheel. The device has evaded multiple recall efforts, according to CNET, a tech coverage website. The device functions by having students balance on a board with one wheel in the middle. Some boards can go up to 19 miles an hour. According to the Onewheel website, the top speed depends on the model and other factors like the weight of the rider. There is also a safety feature to force the rider to slow down. If it is ignored, there can be severe damage to the board, and riders can lose control. Additionally, The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission urged consumers to stop using the Onewheel due to riders being ejected, inflicting head trauma and other injuries that resulted in death.
Other injuries like concussions, upper and lower body fractures and ligament damage were reported.
If campus employees like the University Police Department or Facilities Management came speeding down a hill at students and caused an accident that prompted the need for an ambulance, there would be an uproar calling for rules and limitations.
As a student-journalist, I have learned that everyone has the potential to use their voice and speak on issues that are impacting them. I urge others to demand something better. We pay countless student fees; our transportation systems should have a layout that provides the most benefit. Propose that the roads are smooth enough to skate on safely. Ask for bike lanes that students can use if they need to. If students can borrow laptops and podcast gear, maybe they should be able to loan safety equipment too.
I am not saying students should not skate, but simply asking them to consider why they are speeding down a hill that everyone else is walking on. I propose one final question to students who use other forms of transportation on campus: If you wouldn’t do it in a car, why do it on a skateboard, with no protection for yourself or others?
Feature image by Jackson Gray
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