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Longboarding club activities not on board with safety, laws

Amy Macynski / Lantern photographer

The dangers of longboarding in Ohio State parking garages include possible injury, citation by Transportation and Parking Services, or even arrest by OSU police. But those perils aren’t enough to keep some members of The Longboarding Club from stepping on their boards.

“Since there aren’t a lot of hills around here, garages are continuous hills,” said Kevin Sprague, a fourth-year in communication who serves as the public relations and promotions manager for The Longboarding Club.

Riding in garages “helps us go faster and it’s easier on your ankles,” Sprague said.

Sprague, who will become president of the club “within the next few weeks,” has been longboarding for almost three years and has been a member of The Longboarding Club since it was founded in 2010.

“The second I went down 13th (Avenue) from 4th (Street), I knew (longboarding) was for me,” Sprague said. “It was so sketchy and awesome. So cool to have that looming danger over me.”

There are more than 60 members in the club, Sprague said, with 15 to 25 who show up for the club’s semiweekly rides.

The difference between a longboard and a skateboard is in the boards themselves. As the name implies, a longboard is longer than a skateboard and has bigger wheels as well, said David Hyland, a second-year in mechanical engineering and member of the club.

“They’re made for cruising,” Hyland said.

Molly Blandford, a first-year in psychology, had never cruised before she attended The Longboarding Club’s first meeting of Spring Quarter March 27. She said she didn’t know what to expect.

“If I leave with a broken leg, whatever,” Blandford said.

While Blandford was nonchalant about possible dangers, Sprague is excited by them.

The possibility of getting hit by a car “is a big part of the draw,” Sprague said.

Members of The Longboarding Club often engage with that possibility, as the club rides in garages about twice a week, Sprague said.

Members who ride in garages start at the top of the garage and cruise downhill in the driving lane, Sprague said.

Riding longboards in university garages is a violation of university policy, which limits where skateboards, roller blades and similar devices may be used.

“Persons using skateboards, roller blades, in-line skates or similar devices on university premises are limited to riding upon the sidewalks and crosswalks … (and are) prohibited in all other areas, including roadways, bicycle paths, inside any university building; in any parking lot, garage, or construction area; or upon site furniture, architectural elements, walls, steps, ramps, or site improvements,” according to the Transportation and Parking Services 2011-2012 Policies and Procedures.

While Sprague said he knows riding in garages violates university policy but chooses to ride there anyway, not all The Longboarding Club members are as forthcoming as Sprague.

“We don’t ride in garages,” said Matt Geisen, a third-year in Japanese, as he used his fingers to make air quotes around his remark.

Sprague is more explicit, and said University police has warned members of the club riding in garages.

“They threaten to take our boards but they don’t, and we’d never let them. They know we’d give them s— back,” Sprague said.

Deputy Chief Richard Morman of University police declined to comment on Sprague’s remarks, but said University police has “confiscated one (board) this year and two (boards) last year.”

“There is a mechanism (to enforcing the policy),” Morman said. “It’s the officer’s discretion. They can warn to cease and desist. If they resist, it could be criminal trespassing. We could arrest. We prefer the route of citation.”

University police can issue the citation, but it would be through Transportation and Parking Services, he said.

Sprague is not concerned about the policy, he said.

“The most they can do is ask us to leave,” Sprague said.

Transportation and Parking Services can, however, impound “(a)ny bicycle, skateboard, roller blade, in-line skates or similar device used in violation of any of the provisions … (and hold the device) until all associated fines have been paid,” according to its 2011-2012 policies and procedures.

Transportation and Parking Services does, however, allow longboarding on sidewalks. But “weaving in and out of people” is also dangerous, Sprague said.

“There’s kind of a pedestrian-car hierarchy of safety,” Sprague said. “We worry about people, they worry about cars.”

In spite of Sprague’s nonchalance about the policy, he said the club takes steps to avoid being caught.

“We don’t go by the gate people … We stop at the second floor, take the elevator up and go back down,” Sprague said. “People seem to be all right with us.”

Rebecca Kim, an associate professor in the College of Social Work, disagreed.

“It’s a good policy” to prohibit riding in the garages, said Kim, who parks in Arps Garage.

Though Kim has never seen anyone riding in Arps Garage, she said it could be dangerous.

Pat Magee, a program coordinator in the College of Education and Human Ecology, also parks in Arps Garage.

“I end up working fairly late at night at Arps, and I have watched skateboarders on (the railing) take chips off, not intentionally,” Magee said. “I think it would be extremely easy to do damage to cars.”

Sprague said despite the warnings, dangers and consequences, the nonchalant attitude of the club echoes through campus and the club has no plans to stop riding in garages.

“It seems like the smart thing to look out for our safety, but we don’t care enough,” Sprague said. “It’s fair to ask us to leave, but we’re not going to do it.”

One comment

  1. Rick Seagraves

    I read about your club & I think its great what you young folks are doing. I have had a back injury for many years & only wish I could get out & had the talent it takes to shred the parks & garages on those longboards. So I use my talents in a different way. I learned how to make a longboard. I am currently trying to sell it on craigslist so I can get money to build some more & build one for my grandson for Christmas. If you would like to see my board go to sporting goods on CL & type in longboards. Let me know what you think….Rick…

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