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Observer Editorial: Let’s talk about the scooter problem

Notre Dame’s campus has a few givens: Touchdown Jesus, the Golden Dome, Saint Mary’s Lake and, of course, electric scooters. Electric scooters, which can reach speeds over 20 miles per hour, are ubiquitous at the University and have become a nuisance.

Scooters can be a fun way of getting around and can be important alternatives to costly transportation or a way to get around for students who are mobility-impaired, but they won’t be for much longer if unsafe scootering persists. It is time for pedestrians to reclaim the sidewalks.

Think about it. How frequently do you have to dodge a scooter while walking to your class in DeBart? How often do you watch it happen to someone else? Pedestrians should not have to slow down or jump out of the way as scooters recklessly zoom past. It is time we recognize that scooters don’t have the right of way and some riders need to start being more careful.

In case you need evidence of this, here it is spelled out in the Personal Electric Vehicle Policy from the NDPD: “Personal electric vehicle users must stay to the right on all roadways, crosswalks, pathways and sidewalks. Pedestrians have the right of way.”

There is no need to travel 20 mph on campus, let alone on sidewalks. While the appeal of scooters is understandable — especially for students who live off campus and don’t have a car — the way students use them on campus is unsafe. Almost getting hit by a scooter has become a running joke and a campus-wide issue.

This isn’t just a problem at Notre Dame either. In August, an incoming Indiana University freshman hit a bump on his scooter, lost control and crashed. This student eventually died from his injuries, the Bloomington Herald-Times reported. While this tragic example may seem extreme, it occurred just a few hours away from our own campus and should serve as a sobering reminder of how scootering can become dangerous. 

These are not Razor Scooters we’re talking about. Scooters don’t need to be banned, but safer scootering needs to be practiced for the well-being of everyone. 

Here are some tips: 

  1. Yield (please) to pedestrians around campus and signal if you need to pass.
  2. Consider riding a bike or a manual scooter instead if you are able to. 
  3. Don’t text and scooter.
  4. Don’t drink and scooter.
  5. Obey traffic rules as you would when driving a car. 
  6. Stay to the right on roads and sidewalks. 
  7. If you’re scootering in the dark, consider buying a light or reflector for cars that might not be able to see you otherwise or pedestrians who may not know you’re coming. 
  8. As the weather changes, be even more careful in the snow. Ride slowly and look out for ice and slippery roads. Leave for class a little early to accommodate that pace.
  9. This applies to other seasons, too. Pay attention to bumps in the road and rocks or sticks that could knock you off your scooter. 
  10. Be alert. This means don’t listen to music so loudly you can’t hear anything. 
  11. Register your scooter with NDPD. 

And for some recommendations from NDPD

  1. Limit speeds to 10 miles per hour. 
  2. Avoid use in areas with heavy pedestrian traffic. 
  3. Use a U-type lock when you aren’t scootering, just in case. 

While banning scooters is extreme and preposterous, so is fearing injury on your daily walk to class. We’d rather not report on scooter injuries.