At first glance, one might assume that the student zooming up West Campus Drive on a skateboard is just really fit, but wait, they aren’t — they have a motor.
Motorized skateboards and scooters are starting to zip down every sidewalk at Cal State Long Beach, changing the way students get around.
Walking from the pyramid to upper campus can add some serious time to the morning commute to class, which is prompting students to add torque to their boards. However, these devices are capable of going much faster than campus regulations permit, and have left some questioning the safety of the riders.
Ravena Bailey is a freshman criminal justice major who received an electric scooter as a birthday present.
“All of my classes are on upper campus, so it saves me about 45 minutes of walking every day,” Bailey said. “My longest walk to class last semester was about 20 minutes. It was always hot and I would have to walk out of the way to avoid construction. Sometimes I would have to miss lunch just to get there on time, but now it only takes me about five minutes to get anywhere on campus.”
According to the university skateboard policy, coasting devices are encouraged to promote a healthy lifestyle by driving or taking the bus less often. The portable vehicles are allowed on all sidewalks as long as they are following regulations such as yielding to pedestrians, and not putting anyone at risk.
The regulation also states that devices aren’t allowed to exceed 5 mph, but the speed of most motorized skateboards and scooters ranges from 10-20 mph.
Lt. Richard Goodwin from the University Police urges students to follow campus regulations and the skateboard policy for coasting devices on the University Police Department website.
“There have been complaints stemming from people riding these devices in areas where they should not be riding,” Goodwin said. “There have been collisions where a skateboard rider has been associated with the cause of the collision, which is due to negligence on the part of the rider.”
According to the campus skateboard policy, the safety of pedestrians is ultimately the responsibility of the rider. In the case of an accident, the rider is also liable for all medical expenses and property damage of the victim.
Getting around campus can be a challenge when the sidewalks are crowded. Adding motorized skateboards to the mix has led to collisions. Since getting her scooter, Bailey said she has had firsthand experience with these collisions and other technical issues.
“I always go the fastest speed and I’ll be cruising down the sidewalk trying to avoid people,” she said. “People can hear the scooters coming and the smart ones stay to one side, but sometimes people will step in front of me and I have to slam on the breaks or swerve so I don’t hit them.”
For Gina Lipscomb, a freshman fashion merchandising major, believes those riding motorized devices pose a threat to other students after she got in a collision with a skateboarder.
“I was riding my bike along a crosswalk and a guy was on a motorized skateboard next to me,” Lipscomb said. “It slipped out from underneath him and flew under my bike. I bumped over the skateboard a few times and everything in my bike basket flew out. He kept saying how sorry he was, but I was too frustrated that I almost face planted on my bike that I didn’t even mind to acknowledge him.”
Motorized skateboards and scooters weigh a bit more than the regular devices, ranging from 10 to 25 pounds. These devices can hold a charge for up to 4 hours, but can cost riders anywhere from $300 to $1,500 depending on the model.
Although motorized transportation is growing around campus, Goodwin said he does not see any new rules are regulations being put into place for these devices at this time.