Electric scooters come to campus

Dean Vaglia, Staff Reporter

It’s time to ditch two feet for two wheels. Electric scooters (e-scooters) are coming back to Oakland University. 

E-scooters originally appeared at OU over the summer when a company scattered a fleet around the campus, forcing the OU Police Department to remove the unauthorized scooters.

“[The scooters] were being left in some places that were blocking access,” Emergency Manager Michael Crum said. “Some were put in bike racks, but when they were moved the alarm would go off, so we got called about the alarm.”

At the same time, another e-scooter company reached out to OU Student Congress (OUSC) and asked about placing their scooters at OU with the university’s approval. 

OUSC President Destinee Rule said attempts have been made by previous OUSC administrations to bring e-scooters to campus, but were met with doubt regarding the safety or appropriateness of the e-scooters. Despite this, when Rule and OUSC Vice President Julia Alexander met with Vice President of Student Affairs and Chief Diversity Officer Glenn McIntosh, the scooter drought seemed to be ending.

“We asked VP McIntosh if we should continue with this and he was like, ‘Yeah, why not?’ so we took the proper steps for it,” Rule said.

McIntosh set up a scooter task force that included Crum, Rule, Office for Student Involvement Senior Director Jean Ann Miller, Dean of Students Michael Wadsworth, Director of Purchasing Paula Reyes, Risk Manager Mary Konicki and Keith Hann from Legal Affairs.

Rule said Spin — a San Francisco based subsidiary of Ford Motor Company that runs bike and scooter sharing services — will be providing the scooters.

Making sure all students have a chance to use the scooters is a top concern of Rule’s, a concern for which Spin accommodates.

“You can call a number, you can purchase a pay-as-you-go type of card and you can download the app as well,” Rule said.

Before the first scooter rides off, Crum is sorting out the safety issues that arise from the inclusion of scooters, as well as laws that apply to e-scooter usage. Some rider rule suggestions Crum has come up with include one rider per scooter, hands on the handlebars at all times and no earbuds or other distractions while riding. Motor vehicle laws also apply to scooters, meaning riders must allow pedestrians the right of way and cannot operate a scooter while intoxicated, but riders 18 and older do not need to wear helmets. 

Both Rule and Crum recommend riders wear helmets to prevent head injury, and Rule mentioned that OUSC might provide helmets for a small fee.

Weather conditions will determine when the scooters are present on campus, and Spin will determine if conditions are safe enough to bring scooters to campus. Rule expects the scooters to be ready by March or April 2020.

Rule said OU will receive a percentage of the revenue earned by Spin, and that the setup, repair and operation of scooters will be fully handled and funded by Spin. How the scooters will be stored when on campus is still unclear, though ideas have been floated by both OU and Spin.

“In the initial proposal from Spin they talked about charging stations, and that is something we still need to work out as a committee,” Rule said. “There was a conversation about doing charging stations on campus or even having a bike rack to put the scooters, but that is all still in the work depending on what risk says, what legal says, what Spin says and what is best from a facilities and grounds standpoint.”