Skateboarding through campus now a smoother ride after construction
- Oct. 10, 2012
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Alex Pang, a senior from St. Louis, uses skateboarding to cope with senioritis.
Pang started skating at about eight years old, which was the first time he ever saw a skateboard. For his first few years at the University, Pang put his board down to focus on school. This semester, he decided to pick it up again.
“It’s how relaxing it is,” Pang said. “Depending on what I’m trying to do for the day, if I’m riding home or trying to get somewhere, I just throw on my headphones and coast.”
Pang’s favorite place to skateboard is Wescoe because it’s flat. He said a skateboarder’s worst nightmare is cracks and gravel; when skating downhill, hitting a crack in the path can turn into a bad accident.
Last year, 42 people died while skateboarding according to a 2011 USA skateboarding fatality report by Skaters for Public Skateparks Research Committee. Most of the fatalities were caused by skating in the street, and 39 of the deaths were people between the ages of 13 and 24, according to the report. A couple of years ago, Pang “bailed” on Wescoe while skateboarding with friends: He attempted to jump the stairs.
“First time, I rolled up to it, because that’s what we do. If you plan on doing something like that, you roll up to it first to see how your heart is going to feel when you are actually doing it. I got a feel for the area and I felt good, I really did. I went up to it, jumped it, but I didn’t pop it hard enough.”
Pang landed on his board at the wrong angle. His feet went flying out from under him, which left his butt crashing onto the concrete at the bottom of the steps. This stunt did not lead to any injuries for Pang. In fact, he’s never broken a bone while skateboarding. The renovation to Wescoe beach made it easier for Pang to skate on because it’s smoother than it was before.
“The new benches are perfect for a dynamic array of tricks and just hanging out,” Pang said.
Peg Livingood, a landscape architect at the Office of Design and Construction Management, said skateboarding on concrete benches and retaining walls breaks down the materials and makes them look worn. She also said skating on railings can scrape paint and leave exposed steel, which can cause rust.
“I encourage skateboarders to help us maintain the beauty of the campus,” Livingood said, “We need all the help we can get.”
Lawrence resident Bert Haverkate-Ens said he witnessed a group of skateboarders, who were grinding on the cement outside of the Eldridge Hotel, receive a lecture from police. He said he has seen hundreds of skaters turn sidewalks into their own skateparks, but that was the only time he saw someone get in trouble for it.
According to a Lawrence city code, “It is unlawful. It shall be unlawful for any person to ride, skate or use a coaster, roller skates, skateboard, roller blades, or other similar device on sidewalks in the area of Jayhawk Boulevard from West Campus Road to Thirteenth Street including 1000 feet on either side of this corridor on the University of Kansas campus.” The penalty for getting caught skating within unauthorized areas in Lawrence can be a fine of up to $30.
“As long as people are being safe and are handling themselves responsibly, then skateboarders on campus don’t bother me,” James Smith, a sophomore from Memphis, Tenn., said.
Skateboarding has helped Pang meet many friends and shaped him into the person he is today. Pang said skating was a good way for him to bond with friends, since he wasn’t into team sports, until he came to college.
“When I was younger, my parents were never home, so I would call up my friends and so we would just stay out all night skateboarding,” Pang said. “It’s a really peaceful urban art. I really love it.”