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Originally published: 2013-09-09 11:49:31
Last modified: 2013-09-09 11:50:15

Our View: Wheels of safety can go round, and round again

Before we put the wheels back on a plan that has already removed these wheels from area skateboarders, both the town of Boone and Appalachian State University are right to proceed with due diligence in investigating the multifaceted issue.

Skateboarding both in town and on campus is currently not an allowable alternate means of transportation. Today, a ban on the use of skateboards on campus, sidewalks and streets can summon a citation if on campus, or a $50 fine if in town -- two punitive measures that have prompted some ASU students to petition for an end to our area's no skateboarding policy.

It is certainly the rights of the ASU Student Government Association, the ASU Sustainability Council and other groups to seek an end to the ban. But it is also the right -- and responsibility -- for town leaders and ASU personnel to study the issue in-depth, with an eye on the safety of skateboards as a mode of transportation as opposed to recreation.

In the end, those two are far from the same things. Indeed, after about three years in operation, county leaders opted to close in 2009 the recreational Appalachian Skatepark at the Watauga County Recreation Complex, citing budget and safety concerns. With that venue closed, area skateboarders have few legal options left.

But before we compare apples to oranges, it is important to note that at issue today is the use of skateboards as a legitimate means of transportation -- a means presented with unique challenges in the Boone area, and challenges that surrounding communities and other university settings do not face.

Without a doubt, the topography of our mountain town and its narrow and often congested streets seem obstacles to allowing skateboarding to assume a place next to traffic that already includes pedestrians, public buses, vehicles and bicycles. It is because of this that the issue merits deep study.

But more importantly, that study must start with a need assessment. The Boone Public Works Department is now waiting for input from an ASU group that would present a plan mutually beneficial to students, the town and the campus.

It is that information that will get the wheels rolling for further consideration -- consideration that must give all sides a fair hearing, but in the end secure safety first in all means of legally approved transportation.