Slow your roll: Student leaders on board for safety

GCU students buddy up as they ride an electric scooter and skateboard on campus.

Story by Mike Kilen
Photos by Ralph Freso

GCU News Bureau

Grand Canyon University’s campus is like a meandering river's currents and eddies. Students on scooters, longboards, skateboards, flow along walkways at different speeds with an artistry that has created a signature GCU atmosphere.

GCU students ride scooters and skateboards through traffic on campus.

But sometimes the river spills over the bank.

“My sophomore year I was boarding to work, hit a pebble, and really ate the asphalt,” said senior Sarah Sanchez. “I got a concussion. I didn’t ride a board for a couple months. Now I’m looking at the ground more and being aware of my surroundings.”

Sanchez is not alone.

“The reality is we deal with multiple accidents every single day,” said Mike Caputo, GCU’s Director of Public Safety. “Even though the boards can go 20 miles per hour, it certainly is not safe going that fast.”

That’s why Caputo was pleased when he was approached by student government leaders seeking ways to make the campus safer. Encouraged by University leadership, Associated Students of GCU supported an effort to make Lopes Way a wheel-free zone on campus.

It means all wheeled forms of transportation, including boards and scooters, bicycles and golf carts, aren’t allowed in the walkway that runs from Prescott to Kaibab. On other roadways and walkways through campus, students are being asked to watch their speed.

ASGCU is promoting safety awareness during Wheels Week. which starts Monday. It will feature tablings on the typically busy Lopes Way location of dining establishments and a Wednesday night car show with free food.

A new rule stipulates that scooters and boards must be walked or carried on Lopes Way.

Caputo said that area of campus is the most congested and along with Colter Circle has the most accidents.

“I think it’s a great initiative put forth by the student government to institute some common sense,” he said. “We support anything we can do to make the campus safer.”

ASGCU President Darion Padilla said his organization consulted with Connie Colbert, GCU’s Director of Health Services, and leaders in Student Affairs before launching the initiative – the Canyon Health and Wellness Clinic reported 60 incidents involving skateboards or scooters last semester. They also talked with students, some of whom were worried about accidents between walkers and those on wheels.

ASGCU leaders' task is to sell other students on the idea.

“We believe that wheels, boards and scooters, are such a big part of campus culture here. We don’t want to dampen that, but just do it safely,” Padilla said.

On many larger campuses, students use bicycles to get around, but GCU’s size is conducive to skateboards and the like, allowing students to cut down the time of what could be a long walk from one side of campus to the other.

It’s so popular that skateboard stands are placed outside buildings, and a GCU graduate, Weston Smith, even launched his own business on campus, Lux Longboards.

GCU students say that riding with friends is a social activity as well as transportation.

Some students are using electric scooters or boards, which have greater speed. They are allowed on campus walkways and roadways, as are most wheeled forms of transportation other than motor vehicles or motorcycles.

It has created a culture of rolling through campus, riding with grace (or not) on the most popular wheels – longboards – often with a group of friends.

“It helps you get places faster,” Sanchez said. “I enjoy it -- it’s just a fun activity. All my friends board, so we board around campus. It’s always a risk you take.”

She has noticed more students this year using electric boards and scooters, but she has a nickel board, smaller and more lightweight than a longboard. Even as she takes more care since her bad accident, not long ago another rider clipped her board and sent her scrambling.

“The biggest thing is not be on your phone and to be looking in the direction you are going. Sometimes students are not paying attention, or turning around to talk to a friend,” she said.

Caputo adds these three safety tips: Slow down, be aware of your surroundings and wear a helmet.

Grand Canyon University senior writer Mike Kilen can be reached at [email protected] or at 602-639-6764.


Tabling on Lopes Way, noon-2 p.m. Monday, 11 a.m.-1 p.m., Tuesday, Thursday and Friday

Wheels and Wings, car show and food at Willow Field, 6-8 p.m. Wednesday


Related content:

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