People proceed to use scooters within the Bloomington community despite recent incidents. Scooter companies, such as Lime and Bird, have rapid expansion at college campuses nationwide.
Removing scooters from the IU campus will persuade students to walk or bike around campus two “healthier options” or utilize public transportation, free for university students.
E-scooters are typically parked near bike racks on campus or near sidewalks off campus. In Bloomington, a surplus of these transportation methods leaves campus and surrounding side streets plastered by their presence. Rules and regulations when looking at scooter policy appear inadequate.
If the students are like me, minimal people realize IU has a policy about compliance with e-scooters that underwent the latest review in September 2018. While I encourage you to read the policy, in summary, it reads one should not make poor choices, or the university reserves the right to take your scooter and apply sanctions as they deem necessary for any inappropriate behavior.
In the wake of my observations, students drive on sidewalks, bike lanes and streets. It's a rare sight to see someone riding a scooter with a helmet, and I have never seen anyone get in trouble for two people riding a scooter at once.
According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, in 2020, 29% of young drivers between the ages of 15 to 20 who died in crashes had alcohol in their bloodstream. At the intersection between drunk driving and scooter usage, we must realize that e-scooter drunk driving can occur at late hours.
One of many counterarguments to keeping scooters includes environmental factors such as reducing carbon dioxide emissions compared to the bus system or driving around campus. I care deeply about the environment. I do not find that scooters are decreasing the use of public transit such that the bus system reciprocates a reduction in times due to the increase in scooter usage. Nor would I or my friends willingly choose to scooter from downtown Bloomington to College Mall should a car find itself available or the bus come conveniently.
Scooters go very fast, and bikes can too. The City of Bloomington employed the reconstruction of Seventh Street to reduce the car traffic to two lanes and add a bicycle lane in one of the pre-existing lanes. The 7-Line finished in the Winter of 2021-2022.
The plan made biking between downtown and the IU campus very friendly. That said, bikes and scooters have very different designs. I speak on behalf of those who train for Little 500 biking around town: keep all electronic scooters out of the bike lane.
Bloomington graciously allows scooter drivers on the sidewalk. In many cities, like Indianapolis, this is not permitted. Why? Because scooters win when coming into impact and striking a pedestrian. Heavy electric scooters are much faster than humans. Even while cautious, mistakes happen.
Just as people take the risk of driving or getting in an automobile, you obtain similar risks at the touch of a few taps on a smartphone when signing up to ride a scooter. Think about your responsibility.
Ride with caution, or avoid consumerism by choosing to walk, bike or take the bus instead.
John Hultquist (he/him) is a senior studying community health with minors in urban planning/community development, global health promotion and personal well-being.