Recently campuses have seen an influx of e-scooters, dockless bikes and e-skateboards, more generally referred to as motorized mobility devices. As hearing about near-misses, collisions and reckless riders becomes more commonplace, we at the Technique, believe that there is a necessity for change in the realm of personal electric transportation devices in the interest of the safety of all students on campus.
Walking and driving on campus, especially near Tech Square, is far more hazardous with the presence of micro-mobility devices — both on the road and on the sidewalk. Since their introduction, these devices have been responsible for countless injuries as inexperienced riders zone out, speed through high-risk areas like Freshman Hiil, and refuse to follow traffic laws — placing riders at risk of serious injury and even death.
Even though scooters seem to be a catalyst for danger, especially on a college campuses, their recent development means that legislation around scooters is incredibly variable and incomplete. Multiple metro Atlantic cities have already taken steps towards limiting e-scooters. Campuses have taken it even further as colleges like UGA have completely barred Birds on campus after facing numerous violations of campus policy within the first week of their introduction.
In light of these numerous safety concerns and issues, we also recogonize the importance of these e-devices for many students. Students living off campus may rely on their personal motorized micromobility devices as their sole method of getting on and off campus — a need that is further heightened by the inconsistency of the Atlanta public transport. Moreover, for people in low-income areas who may not have access to cars or be able to afford consistent use of ride sharing services, electronic micro-mobility devices may be the one of the best options for day to day transportation.
Taking into account the good, the bad and the dangers of motorized micro-mobility devices, we encourage the implementation of updated safety protocols and infrastructure changes regarding devices, personal and rented. First and foremost, we urge Tech to release a comprehensive set of rules governing the use of motorized personal mobility devices along with methods of enforcement. While certain rules, such as no riding on sidewalks, are far more enforced than others, we encourage GTPD to extend this attitude towards traffic violations. Furthermore, in crafting these rules, we believe that taking into account various facets of campus is very important. For example, certain parts of campus have much steeper elevation than others, so it would be reasonable for these areas to have stricter rules as well.
Another important concern is the parking of these devices, especially in a way that blocks important ADA pathways. Certain areas, such as parking lots, are demarcated as red zones and cannot be accessed by rental e-devices, but further actions should be taken to limit the areas where these devices can be parked. This is especially important since often these devices are parked in such a way that it blocks ADA pathways for people who rely on them for transportation throughout campus. A possible solution would be the enactment of impounding policies where improperly parked bikes are immediately impounded and can only be retrieved by students and companies by paying an impounding fee.
On a larger scale, general issues of city planning make personalized mobile devices more dangerous. Many areas in Atlanta do not have bike lanes, which makes the experience far more dangerous for bikers. As we move towards a more sustainable future, we encourage cities to move away from their car-centered policy and look to other options.
The issue of motorized micro-mobility devices reflects a larger issue of technology law. Technology often evolves too fast for legislation to accommodate it, leaving many new innovations in a dangerous gap in the law. We know what scooters, bikes, and skateboards are and we know how to truly regulate them, but as they get faster and passing legislation gets slower, the future looks uncertain.