The frequently debated electric scooters that have popped up across the United States are now appearing on colleges campuses. The scooters' arrival is part of the tech company Bird's six-week university pop-up tour. It's unclear which institutions Bird plans to visit or how long it will keep the scooters on each campus.
Administrators can expect little warning before these scooters appear on campus. The company is known for surprising city residents (and policymakers) with dozens of scooters dropped off on sidewalks, Jonathan Shieber writes for Tech Crunch.
"Whether it’s making it to a class on time, clocking in for work or simply getting to campus from the nearest public transit stop, Bird will help eliminate transportation gaps so students and faculty can focus on what really matters: education," Travis VanderZanden, chief executive of Bird, said in a press release.
But as the Bird scooters flock to campus, administrators have to grapple with the potential safety threats they pose for students and pedestrians.
The University of Georgia (UGA) plans to regulate the use of the scooters on campus, writes Joe Johnson for Online Athens. The UGA police department plans to "enforce Georgia law for scooters on sidewalks and violations of related Georgia traffic code on public streets" to protect student safety, according to an announcement from the university. Under Georgia law, individuals must ride scooters off the sidewalk, abide by traffic laws, and wear helmets, writes Johnson for Online Athens. Individuals who violate these laws could earn a fine of $185, he adds.
Also see: What campus IT can learn from Uber, Lyft, and Google Maps
San Diego State University (SDSU), however, is waiting to see how students and community members use the scooters around campus before they change any enforcement policies, reports Matt Hoffman for KPBS.
Like UGA, scooter operators at SDSU must stick to roadways and bike paths and must wear helmets, says Matt Conlon, a lieutenant at SDSU's police department. "We’ll have to evaluate it as things progress and see if they become a problem or are presenting an issue that we have to do more enforcement or change some policies within the campus," says Conlon.
Any student who plans to use the scooters should "ride within your ability, stay responsible because you are responsible for your own actions and any damage or injury you may cause," says Conlon (Johnson, Online Athens, 8/31; Hoffman, KPBS, 8/27; Bird press release, 8/16; Schieber, Tech Crunch, 3/9).
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