Lime-S Scooter Kickboard/Caitlan Burns

The Electric Scooters On Campus


By Caitlan Burns

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They sprouted like mushrooms. On Monday, I noticed someone riding a scooter and figured they were becoming more popular. I saw another one later, in green instead of black. As a kick scooter enthusiast, I rejoiced. Finally, they were cool. Later I saw more scooters, mostly black, and on Tuesday even more. Now I began to wonder. The scooters were scattered willy-nilly. What was going on? Even scooters need to be locked up. Finally, I examined one.

 

Bird Scooter Instructions/photo Caitlan Burns

Ooh.

 

They’re for rent.

 

I decided to do some research. Here’s what I found out.

 

Lime-Es Electric Scooter in Front of Main Building/Caitlan Burns

 

They’re Everywhere

 

Electric scooters have flooded several cities. First San Francisco, and now it’s Austin’s turn. Currently, legislation is in the works to control this epidemic of two-wheeled conveyances, but at present, they can populate the streets like rabbits. As a result, I’ve seen scooters all over. They line up along Guadalupe and are scattered all over campus.

 

Bird Scooter at the circle beside the Winship Drama building/photo Caitlan Burns

 

They’re Fun, For Now

 

Other cities have had electric scooters for longer, though not by much. The benefits are dubious. Apparently, scooters break down. Though the instructions are clear to leave scooters out of the path of traffic, people don’t always want to comply. The idea of scooters for hire is a new one and it seems like the kinks have yet to be completely worked out. The recent influx of small, two-wheeled conveyances on the street has led the city of Austin to hurry decisions on how to regulate them. Time will tell exactly what the restrictions will be. Though, The City of Austin appears to intend to enforce common sense measures. Permits would be needed and scooters should not block the right of way.

 

Scooters juxtaposed/ Caitlan Burns

They’re Popular

 

I’ve been seeing students use them since they first appeared. At one point there was even a large group of six or seven guys, like a weird scooter bound gang from some sort of musical.

 

A UT student, when asked, expressed her enthusiasm. Like many students, she has classes all over campus and needs a way to get around. The scooters fill this need in addition to being fun. She said she was even considering purchasing a scooter of her own.

 

 

Bird Scooter/Caitlan Burns

 

There’s a Lot of Choices

 

It seems that transportation for hire is a hot industry. Austin B-Cycle has been around for a few years now, with their docked bicycles. There are several docking stations downtown including near the Austin Community College Rio Grande Campus and in front of the U.T Art Building. If we’re talking only about scooters, Bird started dropping off scooters on April 5th and Lime Bikes followed right behind with their Lime-S scooters. It’s possible they might try to bring their bikes to Austin as well. Considering that San Francisco has three scooter companies competing as well as a moped ride share, perhaps we’ll have the same degree of competition.

 

Riding Them Can Be Illegal

 

I checked the websites for both Bird and Lime-S. People who want to ride one of the scooters have to have the app. The app requires customers to submit scans of their Driver’s License. It tells them to always wear a helmet and avoid driving on sidewalks. At least in Austin, neither of these requirements are met by the riders I’ve seen. Of course, on campus, there’s a little more leeway but on the streets, the lack of helmets and aggressive scooter drivers can really be a problem.

 

Conclusions

 

Kick scooters are fun. They combine the mobility of a skateboard with handlebars and breaks. Electric kick scooters are even more fun, taking a lot of the kicking out of the equation. Scooters themselves are definitely great but I’m not sure that the scooter for hire endeavor will be successful.  Maybe I’m wrong. This is a new thing and new things have kinks. I will say that, as I sat down by West Mall, I saw a scooter that no one could get to work.