Skateboarding, Rollerblading, and Roller-Skating on Campus
Skateboarding, roller-skating, Rollerblading, and the use of other coasting devices at K-12 schools or on college campuses is a popular activity and mode of transportation. But these activities can be dangerous to the rider and those around them, and can result in injuries including broken bones, traumatic brain injury, and even death.
To help reduce these risks on campus, some schools ban the devices altogether, while others implement restrictions to encourage safe use.
Carefully analyze your campus’ culture with respect to these devices and make clear decisions about their use on campus, including restrictions your school will need to enforce to maximize community safety.
Review state and local laws and ordinances because some locales may prohibit their use altogether.
Policies and Rules
Tailor your policy and rules to your campus environment. Where feasible, United Educators (UE) recommends incorporating these safety measures:
- Create a policy articulating your decision about use on campus. Clarify which coasting devices the policy covers. For example, some schools include any wheeled device, while others specifically include scooters, rollerskis, longboards, and more.
- Be specific about allowable locations. Many policies allow coasting devices for transportation only, but not in roadways or campus buildings. Some policies detail locations where skating is prohibited, especially those which might be attractive to riders, skaters, and Rollerbladers. Examples of prohibited areas include tennis courts, running tracks, parking lots, breezeways, building eves, inside campus buildings, and on benches, tables, bicycle racks, railings, walls, or fountains.
- Explicitly prohibit reckless or careless riding.
- Prohibit tricks, stunts, and acrobatics, except in authorized areas such as skate parks.
- Require riders to obey traffic signs and use hand signals.
- Prevent riders from operating under the influence of alcohol, illegal drugs, or medication that may impact safe operation.
- Encourage the wearing of safety equipment, such as helmets and knee and elbow pads, to avoid the most common injuries. Note that in some places, state or local law may mandate helmets, especially for those under age 18.
Coasting devices can be especially dangerous when used in areas with pedestrians. So carefully manage potential pedestrian interactions.
- Grant pedestrians the right of way at all times, or at least on campus pathways and sidewalks.
- Consider a speed limit, for example requiring travel slower than 5 miles per hour in areas where pedestrians are sharing pathways or sidewalks.
- Require skaters and riders to dismount in pedestrian-only zones. These dismount or walk zones are areas where coasting devices can’t be used, and they keep students from traveling through high-traffic areas and putting pedestrians at risk. Schools can require the coasting devices be parked before people enter these areas, or that a person walk beside the coasting device. Your institution can restrict the areas at all times or only during certain hours. Ensure the zones are well labeled. Consider using yellow rubber warning pads that protrude from the ground to slow users and identify dismount zones. Many schools include maps of the dismount zones within their policy.
Other Safety Steps
- Publicize and enforce your restrictions. This helps support your policy and restrictions. Extensively publicize your policy to students by including it in the handbook, explaining it at orientation, and posting the rules on signs in areas where skateboarders, roller-skaters, and Rollerbladers congregate. Consistently enforce the rules so that the safety practices become part of the campus culture.
- Identify and remedy hot spots. Railings, loading docks, and steep inclines are attractive to skateboarders and Rollerbladers doing tricks. Place signs in these areas outlining your institution’s policy, particularly if campus visitors are common. To deter dangerous activity, consider using surface mounts that attach to surfaces such as retaining walls and break up long, smooth, edges, which are ideal for performing tricks. Other architectural devices, such as knobs at the end of handrails, also will prevent tricks. If your institution becomes aware of problem areas, patrol them regularly until the behavior stops.
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About the Author
Christine McHugh, Esq.
Senior Risk Management Counsel
Christine’s areas of expertise include employment law, sexual assault prevention, protection of minors, traumatic brain injury, and diversity, equity, and inclusion. Before joining the Risk Research team, she handled UE liability claims for several years. She previously practiced employment and higher education law.