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The pros and cons of electric dockless scooters

Dockless scooters are met with both approval and criticism at ASU


An ASU student rides a Bird scooter in Tempe, Arizona, on Wednesday, Sept. 5, 2018.

Dockless electric scooters have become a new trend in communities across the country.

The environmentally conscious design of the scooters makes them attractive additions to university campuses. However, while the dockless aspect of the scooters has been considered convenient, it has also been met with criticism. 

When dockless bikes were introduced in Scottsdale, citizens and public officials expressed disapproval, calling the bikes a nuisance, due to them being strewn all over the streets, according to media reports. 

"People love to complain about parking," David King, an assistant professor at the School of Geographic Science and Urban Planning, said. "No matter what type of vehicle, it's an evergreen complaint."

Earlier this month, The State Press reported that Bird and Lime brought about 400 dockless scooters to the Tempe area for the public to use. 

ASU's Tempe campus is now one of the many university campuses across the country that have adopted the scooters.

Despite the criticisms of dockless scooters, according to a Bird spokesperson, the company's scooters are now in almost 50 cities in the U.S. and operating at more than 80 universities. Johns Hopkins University, UCLA and Ohio State University are just a few of the universities where Bird scooters are offered, according to the company's website.

"The scooters have made my life easier," Anisha Mehra, a sophomore studying psychology, said. "They are easy to use and quick to get around on."

"I've heard others talking about them too, about how much easier it is to get around on campus because they're faster and sleeker than the bikes," Mehra said.

The bikes are not available on all ASU campuses, and some students have found it difficult to access them when they need to.

"I'm not a huge fan of the scooters, especially since they're never available near North (side of) campus,"  biomedical sciences sophomore Amulya Diyya said.

The dockless scooters have also prompted some discussion about safety and the hazards that the scooters can create.

"People don't know how to use them," Jake Taylor, a biomedical sciences sophomore, said. "They barely move and then they floor it and run into someone. I've seen it happen literally four times."

According to Bird's spokesperson, the scooters are good for cities that struggle with limited parking, traffic congestion and increasing carbon emissions.

"Our vision is to help create communities with fewer cars on the road," they said. "(And) to help promote the health and safety of its residents." 

Public transportation has been growing in the U.S., reports state, and cities are taking initiatives to ensure that the trend stays that way. 

"The best thing for public transportation is to offer good service," King said. "The scooters are a nice addition to new options for how to get around for short trips. I think they can play a really nice role in Tempe." 

However, according to King, for public transportation to thrive, adjustments might need to be made to make it more appealing to the public, adding that the walk-only zones on campus may have to be modified or expanded in order to accommodate the new scooters. 

"There will be some growing pains," he said. "ASU and Tempe should encourage the development of new transport modes and alternatives."

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