Indianapolis is one of many cities that has Bird and Lime scooters as a new mode of transportation. The motorized scooters have also made their way onto college campuses, such as the University of Indianapolis. With the scooters’ popularity and a concern for student safety, faculty and staff members at UIndy created a new policy regarding safety and proper usage the Shared Mobility Devices.
UIndy students were issued the Shared Mobility Device Policy via email on Oct. 31. The policy, which was issued by the Office of Risk Management, states that the scooters are allowed to be used on campus as long as safety guidelines are met. It goes on to say that not more than one person should ride a scooter at a time and riders must follow the rental agreement from the scooter company they use.
Officer of Public Affairs for the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department Genae Cook said that the scooters are not made for more than one rider at a time and also are meant to be driven on roads. Scooters can be driven in bike lanes but are not allowed on bike paths. She said that it is important that riders turn on the headlight once it becomes dark and to be aware of other vehicles as they may not be able to see riders once it is dark.
Vice President and Secretary to the University Lara Mann, along with members of the Office of Student Affairs and Campus Police began writing the policy nearly six months ago when Bird and Lime scooters began to show up at UIndy. Mann said she also asked other universities who already had scooters on campus what safety guidelines UIndy should include in the policy.
Mann said that in order for policies to be set in motion, they need to be presented in front of the Policy Advisory Committee. The committee is made up of faculty, student government members, campus police and other staff advisers who help create policies for the university in relation to safety and other needs around campus. The committee also addresses any changes at the request of students and faculty regarding any policy issued for UIndy.
Mann said they strive to have representatives from each branch of the university and that she wanted to make sure that a student perspective was present.
“…The student government president is always on the committee, so we always have a student voice no matter what policy we’re making….” Mann said. “He [Jamarcus Walker] was very helpful in the making of this policy.”
Mann also said that Walker brought the policy to the other student government leaders for further concerns or revisions. One issue that the student government brought up was finding places to park the scooters since the bike racks on campus would not have room for both bikes and scooters.
Mann agreed with the leaders of the student government that there were not enough bike racks on campus and said that she is currently working with campus facilities to install more bike racks in the future.
The policy stresses the importance of safety and Mann said that using the scooters safely was its overall goal.
“The safety of our faculty, [staff] and students is the most important thing to us,” Mann said. “So how do we embrace these scooters, embrace new technology, embrace new ways of getting around and transportation? But the foremost thing on our mind is safety.”
Mann said that she has yet to hear any student feedback about the new policy. She said that any feedback regarding any campus policy can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org because it helps the committee make further revisions and resolve issues regarding policies at UIndy.
Freshman respiratory therapy major Ally Day said that she has driven scooters both on campus and downtown Indianapolis and has enjoyed and felt safe riding them.
“It was safe because I was paying attention to my surroundings and watched for pedestrians,” Day said.
Day said that while the scooters are enjoyable to have on campus, there are students who are not using them safely and that is what makes it hard for others to enjoy having them on school grounds.
“…They [some students] don’t pay attention and use them as a toy,” Day said. “They aren’t courteous of other students walking to class.”
Safety issues and traffic violations have also been on the rise according to Cook. Between Sept. 22 and Oct. 22 of this year there have been 34 traffic violations in the downtown Indianapolis area, according to Cook. She also said that the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department has issued public safety videos on Twitter and Facebook to educate the public on how to properly operate the scooters.
“Riding with a helmet is up to them [the rider], but we [the department] stress to wear them,” Cook said.
Cook also said that scooters are treated the same as any other motorized vehicle on the street and can be held responsible for operating them incorrectly.
“Just remember that they are motorized vehicles and they can still be issued a DUI while riding them,” Cook said.
Mann said that the newest policy at UIndy will remain as is for the time being as the committee waits to hear concerns or questions from students and faculty. Students are still being encouraged to use the scooters, Mann said, as they may be the future of transportation. However, Mann and Cook both stressed the importance of safety and knowledge when operating the motorized vehicle.