Jacob Embuscado thought he belonged on the road when he was riding through campus on wheels.
But at the start of the Spring semester, he was pulled over and issued a citation for riding his longboard in the bike lane on Newell Drive.
Embuscado, an 18-year-old UF telecommunication freshman, said he was only vaguely aware of the Florida statute prohibiting all forms of skates and skateboards in the bike lane and roadway at the time. He said he still doesn’t understand the reasoning behind the restriction and wants to petition it as soon as he gains enough support.
“It just seems like a preposterous rule to exclude longboarders,” he said. “At certain points, I feel like even other modes of transportation should be included in the bike lane.”
University Police Officer Gregory Castronover said riding anything that is not supposed to be in the bike lane is considered a moving violation — a ticket worth a minimum of $154 in Alachua County.
Castronover said the department’s goal is to educate.
“If they accept our educational information, they go on their way,” he said. “If they talk themselves into something a little bit more intensive, then they might get a citation.”
Jeffrey Dickens, a 20-year-old UF mechanical engineering junior and president of Gator Longboarding, said he’s only been pulled over once because he wasn’t aware of the statute at the time. Since then, he said, he tries to ride on the sidewalk as much as possible to avoid confrontation.
Even though he said he knows they’re trying to keep campus safe, Dickens said it seems police are looking for reasons to pull people over.
“Everybody complains about it,” he said. “Everybody seems to be getting pulled over.”
He said riding longboards on the sidewalk can be inconvenient because the wheels can easily get caught on anything about an inch off the ground, which makes cracks or bumps in the sidewalk a problem. Dickens said he has seen longboarders go flying into students on the sidewalk, though the accidents usually only cause minor scrapes.
Carrie Vath, an interdisciplinary ecology UF graduate student, said she rides her bike on campus and wouldn’t mind sharing the bike lane with longboarders as long as they were under the same restrictions as cyclists.
FreeRide Surf and Skate Shop manager Peter Harter, 34, agreed.
“Longboarding is not a sport where we’re grinding on concrete,” he said. “We are not doing anything that the average mountain bike or street bicycle wouldn’t do.”
[A version of this story ran on page 1 on 2/4/2014 under the headline "Longboarders ticketed for using bike lanes"]