Eugene, OR –
It’s another cold, autumn Thursday just off the University of Oregon campus at 13th Avenue and Alder Street, cars zoom by and pedestrians cross streets with seemingly blatant disregard for traffic signals. A student, pushing a flat piece of wood mounted on wheels, speeds by, his balance and coordination notable as he navigates safely around his peers.
Student longboarders can handle the traffic around campus, including bustling 13th Avenue. However, many remain unaware regarding current traffic laws that affect them and their desired mode of transportation.
Mack Spears, a 19-year-old sophomore attending UO, rides on 13th Avenue daily. “It’s pretty busy, but manageable.” His ability to navigate the busy streets surrounding campus isn’t questionable, however, as he’s gained his experience riding his longboard “to class, and to bomb hills around 18th (Avenue) late at night.”
Technically speaking, an individual isn’t allowed to skateboard on a sidewalk, because it impedes pedestrian traffic. Conversely, a vehicle must meet certain requirements in order to ride on the street, or in the bike lane, which a skateboard does not. Spears, unlike most UO students, is aware of this conundrum. “It’s kind of bullshit,” said Spears. He’s been pulled over before, for riding in the middle of the road late at night. “He let me go and told me to ride on the sidewalk.”
Kennedy Morgana, an 18-year-old freshman, feels skateboarders should stick to the road, “I don’t think they should be allowed to ride on the sidewalk.” Morgana uses her longboard to get to class and ride with friends.
Another underclassmen, Blake Ladzick, had never heard the restrictions before. An occasional rider, Ladzick sticks to 13th Avenue before the Alder Street intersection. “Do you know where you’re supposed to skateboard then?” he asked.
The question remains. On this Thursday night though, traffic is dwindling. With the coming rains and cold weather, skateboarding might take a break until the drier months, as rain water can severely damage the hardware necessary to ride comfortably. Only three skateboarders can be seen riding by, through the vast sea of fraternity and sorority migrations.
Dwindling screams can be heard in the distance, the night’s anticipation. Music begins at the bars down the street, accompanied by the purr of 70mm wheels running over pavement.