Western’s police force has recently cracked down on skateboarders and bikers riding in designated walk zones throughout campus. While the citations being given out are not new, some students have been surprised by the recent increase in enforcement.
University Police Sgt. Ron Carpenter from Western’s police force said that the enforcement has always been around.
“We haven’t really put a lot of teeth into the enforcement, but with the construction of Carver Gym, and the narrowing of the pathway from Wright’s Triangle all the way down through Carver, it’s imperative that we get the word out,” Carpenter said.
Students have to be off their bikes or skateboards Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. in designated walking zones, Carpenter said. Areas such as Vendors Row are prohibited to bikes and skateboards due to the narrow area and high amount of foot traffic, he said.
Tickets for first-time offenders will start at $15. Second-time skateboard offenders will receive a ticket of $60. Second-time bike offenders will receive a ticket of $30, then for a third offense, the citation will be $60, Carpenter said.
Sophomore Andrew Martin received a $15 citation on Monday, Oct. 26. “They were really nice about it. They were really respectful,” Martin said. “They weren’t the normal angry cops when it comes to skateboarding.”
Martin said he understands because he’s almost been hit by a bunch of cyclists and skateboarders.
“People are just walking and they’re not expecting a skateboarder just to go right by them,” Martin said. “Either take an alternate route that has less people there, or just get off your board and just walk.”
Although he understands where police are coming from, Martin said he still thinks a fair warning could be effective.
Many students believe there should be warnings before officers hand out citations.
Prospective student Jacob Reed and former student Matt Rhyasen had never heard of any of the rules about riding skateboards until Monday, Oct. 26, when they also received citations.
Reed and Rhyasen said they had gotten through Red Square before they both got stopped by officers.
“I haven’t seen any areas where you can and can’t skateboard,” Rhyasen said.
There have been warnings in publications, there are signs on campus, and emails have gone out to students about where they can and cannot ride, Carpenter said.
Complaints from students and staff have contributed to the increase in enforcement, Carpenter said.
“We’ve had people get injured, and we’ve started to cite people, and we’ll continue to cite people as long as we get complaints and people are getting injured or are afraid for their safety,” he said.
Reed and Rhyasen both feel that skateboarders are discriminated against compared to students riding bikes.
“There’s not a bias in our department,” Carpenter said. “I think that maybe that’s their perception and their perception is their reality.”
Carpenter also wants students to know that anyone on wheels other than wheelchairs and strollers may not be moving faster than three miles per hour if there are pedestrians walking, and seven miles per hour if the pedestrians are jogging.
Carpenter said he understands that people are upset about paying for a ticket after already giving the university a lot of money, however he said this is a safety issue and police have given plenty of warnings.
A full list of rules can be found on the WWU website at http://www.wwu.edu/transportation/bike.shtml.