A growing number of students are advocating for the legalization of electric skateboarding on campus as the use of alternative transportation devices is on the rise.
Architecture freshman Ethan Manaster is a proponent of electric skateboarding and is one of the latest members to join the student movement.
“I was just walking down Poly View and somebody else had a skateboard, and I was like, ‘Hey, I just came here and I don’t know anybody. Are you familiar with this issue?’ Manaster said. “He was like, ‘Yeah let me add you to the group chat.’”
This is how he discovered the group chat of about 30 other Cal Poly students and joined their movement to champion allowing electric skateboards on campus.
Electric skateboarding has been growing in popularity as a quick, efficient and eco-friendly way to maneuver around university grounds, despite being currently banned on campus. Under Section 21 of Cal Poly’s Parking Regulations, the use of skateboards, electric or otherwise, is prohibited on campus and violators could receive a citation.
University spokesperson Matt Lazier wrote in an email to Mustang News that the ban is in place for “maintaining public safety, of both riders and pedestrians, on the university’s heavily used roadways and pedestrian walkways.” Lazier wrote that the university currently does not have plans to change the policy.
As a freshman without a car, Manaster said that not being able to use his electric skateboard on school grounds makes getting to his classes on a hilly terrain more difficult. If he has to run quick errands off campus, he must first walk all the way to the edge of campus with his skateboard before he can ride it to his destination.
Computer science senior Tim Stoddard, another student advocating for the use of electric skateboards and scooters on campus, reached out to University Police Chief George Hughes, who has firmly stood with the ban.
Hughes cited safety concerns as the main reason behind the ban. In an email to Stoddard, Hughes stated that, “Trying to mix [scooters] in with the pedestrians, vehicles, and bikes already crowding our roads and pathways, adding scooters and other devices creates an unsafe environment.”
However, student advocates say there has not been solid research to back Hughes’ reasoning, and believe that allowing electric skateboards could reduce traffic congestion issues.
“Everybody knows we have a parking issue here. Everybody knows we have a transit issue here,” said Manaster. “I don’t understand why [Hughes is] not willing to work with us to fix that. Because we’re not here to try and hurt people, we just want to get cars off the road, reduce emissions, you know, that’s what this school is about. We’re moving in that green direction.”
Student advocates also point out that there is a crucial difference between regular and electric skateboards, as electric boards are remote-operated and have brakes, while regular skateboards do not.
Several other university campuses similar to Cal Poly, like CSU Long Beach and University of California, Santa Barbara, permit the use of skateboards, given users comply with certain safety guidelines. These include using skateboards in designated areas and maintaining proper handling so they do not pose a risk to pedestrians.
After contacting Hughes, Stoddard was directed to take the issue up with Associated Students, Inc. (ASI), and has planned to schedule a meeting with ASI president Mark Borges.
Stoddard also started a petition on change.org last year to allow electric skateboarding on campus. He hopes the petition, which has received more than 600 signatures so far, will help fortify his case by showing there is significant backing behind the cause.
“Electric skateboarding and electric scootering – like, they are definitely new, and people are generally cautious and uncertain about things that are new,” Stoddard said. “But I would encourage anyone who hasn’t experienced it yet — go take a test ride, see for yourself. It’s not all that scary and it’s not all that unsafe.”