It’s been a couple of weeks since we’ve been thrust into the strange fantasy world of convenient and amusing transportation in the form of the Lime electric scooters that were introduced all across the campus as part of a deal between the San Francisco-based Lime company and California State University, Monterey Bay (CSUMB). However, motorized transportation, merely suggested safety guidelines and university students are bound to breed trouble. In the short time they have been on campus, students have crashed into pedestrians, fallen and needed stitches, and allegedly received a DUI – all while mounted upon these electric citrus steeds.
In wake of this veritable pandemonium, campus officials have finally spoken up more than just announcing the scooters’ arrival. “Scooters, like any motorized vehicle or bike should be used safely,” said Dr. Ronnie Higgs in an email that went out to all CSUMB students last week. Also enclosed was a short list of “reminders” for future scooter users. This list included expected things like the wearing of protective gear – which the app from the Lime company itself also does – and the request to be mindful of traffic, but also things like not allowing headphones or earbuds to be worn while operating a scooter – which is also illegal while driving a car – and officially limiting one rider per scooter. The list finishes off with a reminder that, “You can have fun and also follow basic traffic rules.”
Since this email has gone out, I have seen little if any change. Admittedly, I did finally see someone wearing a helmet while riding, but they were also not a student and a faculty member. I’ve continued to see many people wearing earbuds, and while I’ve not spotted any rare triple-passenger scooters, I have continued to see plenty of double-passengers. I think this goes to show the biggest problem with the implementation of our bright-green locomotion overlords: the matter of enforcement. While we’ve seen that the Campus Police Department will happily get involved when it comes to inebriated scooter-riders, it seems like guidelines transgressions a la wearing headphones, not wearing a helmet or throwing caution to the wind around pedestrians or other vehicles are not so focused on. Are these indeed just “reminders” and not rules? Or are they simply poorly enforced? The reality is currently quite unclear.
In addition to the email about safety, one was also sent out to all students living on campus regarding “juicers,” people who sign up to take the scooters in and charge them in exchange for both Lime credit and just average all-purpose money, juicing in campus housing. “Residents are prohibited from bringing Lime scooters into any residential building to charge them,” Ellie Hail-Langn, Student Housing and Residential Life Conduct Coordinator laid out the week before the email from Dr. Higgs arrived in student inboxes. “Individuals found in possession of such prohibited devices may be subject to conduct action.”
The main argument presented for this is that it is not the student’s, but the campus’ electricity that is being used to charge the scooters. Which has some interesting implications about our student housing, because that would presumably mean that what we pay for housing is just for the roof over our heads, and the services are provided free of charge by the campus. Or perhaps electricity is included in the housing payments, but the static average on which this price is based is being massively thrown off by the mass-charging of scooters. The way it is phrased in the email seems to suggest that the enforcement of this rule falls to the RAs, but even still I know of several students who still actively juice, so enforcement is clearly still an issue.
I had expected the world of whimsy the arrival of Lime scooters had thrust us into to level out, but weeks later it seems both the use and chaos is at comparable levels to when everything began. Only now certain issues are more clearly laid out as opposed to swerving at high speeds between tired students trying to get to class. It will be interesting to see if there is any kind of crack down on the horizon, or if the campus will remain the wild west.