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UNT on the fence about electric scooters on campus

UNT on the fence about electric scooters on campus

UNT on the fence about electric scooters on campus
September 20
10:58 2019

UNT has participated in preliminary talks with VeoRide, the provider of bike sharing services around Denton, about possibly introducing electric scooters on campus in the future, a VeoRide representative said.

Matt Briggs, VeoRide’s regional general manager for the Texas region, said UNT officials have expressed some interest in electric scooters when approached by VeoRide, but cite safety concerns as a main factor to consider before adopting the technology.

“There are obvious concerns from [UNT’s] end,” Briggs said. “It’s just something that’s never been done before. Bikes are obviously an older technology and motorized scooters are newer so there’s a lot more considerations. There will be a lot of planning, a lot of coordination. We’ll be working very closely together in how we roll that out, but we are optimistic in the future of our partnership with UNT.”

George Stieren, senior communication specialist for UNT Transportation Services, expressed doubts regarding the possibility of VeoRide scooters on campus because of safety concerns. Stieren said UNT shouldn’t expect to see changes in VeoRide services anytime soon.

“There are no plans to change to change that policy [on scooters] right now,” Stieren said. “If we were to change that policy, that would be a much bigger conversation than transportation. That would probably need to be up to the president’s office. Student services and the Office of Disability [Accommodation] would weigh in on that. While VeoRide is a great partner, I think there’s a lot of layers to that we would need to filter through.”

Electric scooters may be a familiar sight to some, as companies like Bird and Lyft continue to place them in cities across the country. Some UNT students can be found “zipping around” campus on their own personal electric scooters, Sietren said, similar to the models used by VeoRide.

Human development and family science senior Elora Dannon said she has wanted electric scooters on campus for some time because of their convenience and novelty when compared to conventional bikes.

“I like how the [VeoRide] bikes give people an alternate way to get around but I really don’t want to bike around in this hot weather,” Dannon said. “I would use [scooters] to get around not because I have to, but because I want to. I’d scoot to the Square, to my campus, to my friends’ houses. I feel like even people that drive would do that, especially if they park off campus and walk. I could see a lot of people using them on the Square, too.”

Texas Women’s University accepted VeoRide bikes like UNT, but a spokesperson for the university said scooters will not come to their campus in light of safety concerns.

“We have a focus on health and well-being and the bicycles were great because it helped support our strategic initiative of getting people outdoors,” TWU Director of Communications Amy Evans said. “The scooters are not something that helps people in that regard. Between that and some of the issues we’ve seen in Dallas and some other cities, we think at this time we are not going to entertain them on campus.”

A handful of universities currently incorporate the newly available VeoRide scooters, including the University of Maryland College Park, which in August introduced 70 electric scooters, 150 electrically-assisted bikes and 70 conventional VeoRide bikes to their campus of 41,000 students.

Briggs said UNT has upped its ridership of VeoRide bikes around four times more last year’s rates, and that areas with scooters tend to see improved ridership over VeoRide bikes.

“The universities that we partnered with are happy to see more folks taking advantage of this alternate form of transportation,” Briggs said. “That’s the whole reason we’re there. You can beat parking, traffic and congestion issues. We help people move around to more locations. What we’ve seen on other campuses seems like a great way to do it.”

Featured Illustration: Jeselle Farias

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Carter Mize

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