In metropolitan regions all over the United States, college campuses have long thrived in walkable, highly mobile cities where amenities and technological advances keep campus transport on the cutting edge. Now with the rise of electric scooters on college campuses, students are finding a new and exciting method of transportation – one that is eco-friendly, cost-effective and allows them a more adventurous daily commute to classes. Electric scooters and electric bikes are the right answer at the right time for college students, and could signal a wave of change in the day-to-day lives of students and staff alike, especially as campuses continue to grow and expand.
Electric Scooters on College Campuses
While it was only in 1997 – the year many current students were born – that the first commercially successful models of electric scooters and bikes were introduced, these devices have become an integral part of modern collegiate life. In fact, e-scooters are now a favorite mode of transportation for 18- to 34-year-old college students and urbanites. But college campuses also present a unique environment in terms of logistical and safety challenges. For campuses of all sizes, implementing a quality micromobility program pays off when it comes to enhancing student life and reducing fossil fuel consumption.
Particularly in bustling college campus areas like Atlanta’s Emory University or Statesboro’s Georgia Southern University, rentable scooters can eliminate lengthy commutes between distant buildings and disconnected areas of campus. And while most bike share and e-scooter data originates from urban areas, the growth of micromobility overall suggests that college campuses may begin to utilize this microtransportation option even on campuses that feel more “small town” in terms of size and student body, due to their already well-designed support for non-motorized pedestrian and bicycle movement.
For campuses looking to start up an e-scooter micromobility program, start by engaging and working with state and local authorities to understand what type of data they already have on such programs. Get familiar with local governing bodies and the ordinances they have in place concerning e-scooters and e-bikes. Once your staff gets up to speed, you’ll be in a good place to start building simple, straightforward rules of engagement for on-campus riding. This will ensure that all riders are aware of proper safety and legal requirements, and leaves less gray area for misunderstanding. Also, this would be a good time to consider instituting rider limits during certain events, days of the week or certain hours. Our resources section is a wealth of knowledge for campuses looking to roll out a successful scooter rental system on campus.
Electric Scooter Safety on College Campuses
One obvious area of concern for schools establishing rentable electric scooters or e-bikes on campus is how to encourage safety, both for the rider (helmet-use and safe operation) and for others using shared infrastructure (sidewalks, roads and bike lanes). There are many important questions campus teams face when building programs that will reliably transport students and transform campus life, while also maintaining safety for riders and pedestrians.
“Spin has seen tremendous adoption of e-scooters across our dozens of campus programs,” said John Lankford, head of campus partnerships for Spin. Lankford lists Spin’s free helmet program along with its paid student safety ambassadors on many campuses as key 2021 initiatives intended to encourage safe riding practices on campuses.
A good foundation for a campus-wide electric scooter rental program also includes a multi-modal campaign like the “Be a PAL” message that helped build the bedrock of Arlington, Virginia’s successful micromobility plan. One such platform in Georgia, Scoot Safe, is aiming to replicate these same successful elements – in a distinctly Georgian way that engages students, staff and faculty with local charm and references that feel personal.
Many of the country’s best and highest-regarded universities have completed or are actively administering pilot programs for scooter rental systems on campus. By the time these pilots are completed, there will be a wealth of data on the behaviors, challenges, safety needs and benefits of these programs. Now is the time to step into the next wave of microtransportation, campus engagement and student life improvements.
Scoot to our Resources section and learn how to make micromobility a safe and popular option on your college campus.