Skids put under skating students

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The Independent Online
BOSTON - For students at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology who could never get to lectures on time, Rollerblades seemed the answer. Just slip them on and zoom down the corridors that link the various buildings of the sprawling Boston campus. It was, after all, putting innovation to good, practical, use, writes David Usborne.

A hybrid of ice- and roller-skates, with small wheels arranged in a single straight line under the boot, Rollerblades certainly allowed swift travel along the corridors' straight and even floors. The problem, however, was all the shoe- bound people who kept getting in the way.

Accidents happened most frequently along the so-called Infinite Corridor, a single, almost Orwellian, artery so long that you cannot see one end from the other. Linking buildings 7, 3, 10, 4 and 8 - they prefer numbers to names at MIT - it becomes especially jammed between lectures.

'It's bad enough dealing with people who want to walk three across,' Therese King, an administrative assistant who has an office just by a main junction on the Infinite Corridor, told the Boston Globe. 'I could get hit from either direction, and I almost have gotten hit a couple of times.'

Finally the complaints of Ms King and others were heard and now all Rollerblading indoors has been banned by the university authorities. No bones had actually been broken, but a sufficient number of academic bodies - and egos - had been bruised to warrant the decision, they argued.

'If you didn't see them coming, you were likely to get whacked,' the MIT spokesman, Bob Di Iorio, said yesterday in defence of the ban. 'Those who still want to Rollerblade to campus from the dorms are just going to have to reschedule a bit when they get to the main buildings.'

The Rollerbladers, who face an on-the-spot fine of dollars 25 ( pounds 17) if they persist, are not impressed. Cyrus Shaoul says he is given five minutes for a regular trek between classes that needs 10 minutes by foot. He wrote complaining to Charles Vest, MIT's President, but got little sympathy.

There are some frustrated lecturers, too, including Professor Woodie Flowers, who teaches advanced engineering. 'I am just a little sad that we missed the opportunity to become responsible Rollerbladers,' he said.

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