by Mallory Culhane
In late May, electric scooters were brought to the streets of Tampa; however, The University of Tampa was quick to make the campus a “no ride zone”.
Electric scooters have been rising in popularity across the world . The scooters are seen in over 100 U.S. cities such as Portland, Austin, and Washington D.C. The electric scooter company, Bird, one of the most popular scooter companies, can even be found in some European and Middle Eastern cities.
“I’m from Chicago and they have [electric scooters] there. They’re pretty fun and they are growing in popularity. It didn’t really make sense to me until I used one myself,” said Jacob Jalloway, sophomore international business management and philosophy major.
Spin, Bird, Lime, and Jump electric scooters are in use around Tampa and have gained popularity over the past few months since their arrival . The scooters are part of a pilot program in Tampa, which has allowed up to 2,400 scooters to be in use.
According to the City of Tampa’s website, the goal of the pilot program is to provide an alternative transportation option that is low-cost and can help reduce traffic downtown. The city will also use data provided by the program to create a new mobility plan to better the Tampa community.
Users are able to find scooters near them with an app on their phones. The app shows nearby scooters, the “no ride zones”, and must be used to turn on and pay for using the scooter. The scooters are generally inexpensive; depending on how long the scooter is in use, a ride is usually only a few dollars. The scooters are able to go up to 15 mph.
About a week after the arrival of electric scooters in Tampa, UT sent out a global message on Monday, June 3, explaining that UT will be a “no ride zone” due to, “UT’s heavy pedestrian traffic, construction zones, narrow streets, accessibility requirements and frequent events, it is believed the scooters could become hazards.”
Some students agree with the ban. The scooters are required to be ridden on sidewalks and due to UT’s pedestrian traffic, some have said it creates potential hazards for students.
“I can barely walk across the Vaughn courtyard without almost getting hit by someone on a skateboard, and I can’t exactly say I would feel any safer if there were a bunch of scooters on campus,” said Jalloway. “I believe that UT’s decision to ban electric scooters on campus is a decision for the best.”
Allowing scooters at UT may also bring people who aren’t students on campus. These people may be looking for a scooter or cutting through campus, which can create additional safety issues for students.
UT plans to prevent the electric scooters from coming onto campus through continuous education, such as global messaging in addition to contacting scooter companies for their support with the ban.
“We have contacted the four scooter vendors and asked them to designate UT as a ‘no ride zone’. So far, two vendors have complied with our request,” said Stephanie Krebs, vice president for Student Affairs and dean of students.
In addition to the scooter companies’ efforts, Campus Safety will play a key role in preventing scooters on campus.
“We will continue to enforce the ban by pro-actively stopping anyone observed riding them on campus and asking them to leave them at the vendor’s off-campus scooter corrals, or at a safe site on the perimeter of campus,” said Samuel Ponce, assistant director of Campus Safety.
Despite the efforts from Campus Safety, administration, and scooter companies, there have already been issues on campus with scooters.
“There have been over 100 scooter rider contacts with Campus Safety since June 1 and with the students returning, we expect that number to go up,” said Ponce.
According to the Tampa Bay Times, there have been issues across the city of Tampa as well. There have been nearly 100 complaints regarding the use of scooters. Scooters are being left in incorrect areas and ridden in “no ride zones” such as the Tampa Riverwalk.
Despite the current ban on campus, scooters may appear at some point in the future at UT.
“We will continue to review the policy. While UT does support alternative transportation, at this point we feel designating the campus a ‘no ride zone’ was the best decision,” said Krebs.
Mallory Culhane can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org