We have all waited more than a year for the beloved walk to class. Logging onto a Zoom call does not have the same flair as the Rutgers inter-campus commute. Unfortunately, our strolls were rudely interrupted by a new addition to campus: The Veo scooters.
This new method of transportation swarmed our sidewalks like spotted lantern flies, blocking our path and inconveniencing students everywhere. Scooters are tossed aside anywhere post-ride, used unsafely and frankly make the already hellish New Brunswick driving experience worse. For the person behind the wheel, a Rutgers student on a scooter is like a faster, more unpredictable pedestrian that can certainly do more damage to your car.
The Veo scooter addition to campus is a fad, and a poor one at that. Yes, the initial excitement of riding a scooter at a thrilling 15 mph makes it seem like a great investment. But the excitement quickly wears off as you realize how impractical, dangerous and expensive these scooters are.
Rutgers has a transportation issue, to put it mildly, and decided that scooters were the solution to crowded buses and poorly managed commutes from campus to campus. Candice Xie, Veo CEO, wooed Rutgers administrators with the promise that they would “demonstrate how e-scooters can complement public transit by offering sustainable, personal mobility options that will help reduce crowding on buses and make getting around the campus safer and more convenient for everyone.”
Anyone who has been on campus for more than a week will tell you that the buses are just as crowded as before. After all, as exciting and innovative as an electric scooter is, it cannot efficiently take you from Livingston campus to Busch campus, Busch campus to the College Avenue campus or Cook and Douglass campuses to any of these campuses.
The scooters are also an expensive alternative to the free buses that take us from campus to campus. “Beginning a session costs $1, and the user then pays 28 cents for each minute of the ride. A 10-minute ride would therefore cost $3.80,” according to Walkable Princeton.
The problem is not that the scooters are not as useful as we initially thought they would be. The problem is they present a significant safety concern to pedestrians, drivers and scooter-fans alike and are another potential source of e-waste on campus.
E-scooters were not created with sustainability in mind, but rather as a convenient means of transportation. On average, a scooter lasts three to five years. And when the fad inevitably dissipates, Rutgers will be left with scores of scooters to dispose of.
Scooters on campus are also yet another hazard for New Brunswick pedestrians. Riding scooters on the sidewalk is not permitted per municipal ordinance, and riders can be fined $250 on the first offense. Yet, students can be found almost exclusively on sidewalks, as slaloming between cars on a busy campus does not exactly seem appealing.
The problem with going 15 mph on a sidewalk is that the other people who occupy that sidewalk are not. The potential for accidents and injuries is hard to ignore. Now these scooters are not as dangerous as recent headlines might make them seem, but that does not mean they are risk free, especially on a college campus where common sense is not always so common.
Take a stroll around the College Avenue campus, for example, and watch students try to straddle two scooters at once, load as many people as possible onto a scooter or even get on drunk. Under no circumstances should a student drink and scoot.
All these scenarios pose a safety threat to other students, not just the ones on the scooter. Combine this with the general annoyance of having to move scooters out of your parking space or avoid them on the sidewalk and you have quite the minor inconvenience.
First and foremost, Rutgers students must begin to be a little more prudent while riding scooters. This means that students on scooters need to get off the sidewalk, be careful on the street and treat scooters the way they would any other vehicle, as something that can be fun but also dangerous. All things considered, putting our faith solely in students may be misguided.
There are, luckily for us, a few key steps Rutgers can take to eliminate this vehicular threat to our day-to-day commutes. A few common-sense measures would be to create parking areas for scooters in order to organize them in one space as opposed to having them sprawled over the entire campus. Another would be to enforce no-sidewalk-scooting laws and suggest that scooter lovers use the bike lane.
In the meantime, we have to live with these electric scooters and the people who ride them unsafely. Be aware of your surroundings, be careful where you walk, drive and scoot and use your common sense. Safe scooting.
The Daily Targum's editorials represent the views of the majority of the 153rd editorial board. Columns, cartoons and letters do not necessarily reflect the views of the Targum Publishing Company or its staff.