Oct 062011
 
Authors: Justin Hill

I, like a decent percentage of the CSU population, enjoy riding my longboard to school.

I’m a particularly safe rider as far as I’m concerned. I stay on the sidewalks, stop at crosswalks, and I am courteous to people on foot. I avoid accidents at all costs by following basic rules of riding.
But yesterday, I got hit by a car.

Not just any car –– An over-sized, lifted Ford F-150 with a big stainless steel grille guard on the front. Thankfully, I was not seriously injured; I sustained a few scratches on my arm, and a little rash similar to a rug burn where my arm rubbed up against the grille.

I live at Ram’s Pointe, and right next to it is Ram’s Park which has one area for entering the parking lot and one area for exiting.

I was riding my board along the north side of Elizabeth St. when I reached the entrance of the parking lot. I did not know at the time, but that bit was for entering only, and I soon saw a big black truck approaching the entrance from inside the parking lot.

I did not slow down for a number of reasons: First, I was going much faster than the truck and it appeared that I would make it across the entrance before it reached it. Second, I assumed the driver in the truck was paying attention to me rolling down the sidewalk, as there were no obstructions blocking him from doing so.

But my third, and most erroneous assumption was that the truck was actually going to stop before the sidewalk to check for traffic and pedestrians.

The driver did not do this.

We reached the entrance at about the same time, and the truck showed no sign of stopping or even slowing down, even though it was making a right-hand turn and only had to look one way for traffic.

So despite my attempt to dodge the moving vehicle, I was hit as it went all the way out into the street with unwavering tenacity.

Much to my surprise, even as the grille guard struck my body and my arm became tangled in it, the truck continued to move for a few more feet. It was like they didn’t realize there was a person virtually on the hood of their car.

I spun away from the grille, scraping up my arm a bit, and then I chased after my long board, which had been flung into the street.

I was in such a hurry to get to school that, when I realized there was no serious damage to myself or my skateboard, I kept on going. I’ve been told that was probably a poor decision on my part, but I was really not in the mood for confrontation, and in all honesty, I would have been less than cordial.

My point here is that, as far as I see it, skateboarders have to follow the same rules as pedestrians, and that gives them the same respect that pedestrians demand from vehicles.

This driver was completely negligent of the right-of-way I possessed, not to mention a sheer ignorance of traffic rules.

But this was not my first encounter with drivers’ disrespect toward skateboarders and their crossing rights.

Later as I got closer to campus, I was almost hit again. I waited patiently at a crosswalk of a four-way intersection for the “walk” sign to light up. When it did, I started across the intersection. As I was about halfway across, another driver –– in a sedan this time –– decided he was going to make a turn right in front of me despite my right as a pedestrian to cross first.

I have seen and personally encountered a lot of disrespect from drivers as a skateboarder. Some of it is rude and seemingly intentional, and other times it is just negligent driving.

Fort Collins is a tightly knit town with a lot of intersections and a lot of pedestrians, and this fact needs to be respected by drivers.

All I ask is for people to be more aware of the rules of the road. We drive a lot, and we walk a lot, so these rules slip our minds on occasion. But that can be very dangerous.

I’m only aiming to inform drivers and pedestrians alike of the potential – though typically uncommon – dangers of the road.

Justin Hill is a junior English major. His column appears every other Friday in the Collegian. He can be reached at letters@collegian.com.

 Posted by at 5:52 pm

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