Various scooters are used for transportation.

Various scooters are used for transportation. Lauren Donecker/The Paisano

Bird Scooters take flight

In the first few weeks of school, students noticed electric scooters known as “Birds” popping up on and around campus. Since then, the scooters have grown in number around UTSA. Now competing electric scooter brands are also showing up on and around campus. 

In addition to the Bird scooters, there are now “Lime” and “Blue Duck” brand electric scooters. According to the respective websites, all three brands allow users to ride the scooter with a small flat fee of one dollar plus 15 cents per minute used, paid through a phone app.

The scooters are a hit among users, but some citizens and city leaders have concerns. There has been an increase in ER visits due to collisions involving the electric scooters According to the Washington Post, the injuries sustained are “a blend of injuries that doctors normally associate with victims of car wrecks — broken noses, wrists and shoulders, facial lacerations and fractures, as well as the kind of blunt head trauma that can leave brains permanently damaged.” The scooter accidents affect not only riders but also pedestrians who are hit by scooters or cars running over improperly parked scooters. 

The City of San Antonio has become aware of the safety concern. On Oct. 11, the San Antonio City Council passed the six-month dockless vehicle pilot program. Under the new program, riders must be at least 16-years-old and are encouraged to use bike lanes. However, if necessary, riders can use the scooters on sidewalks and on roads with speed limits less than 35 miles per hour. 

News4SA.com reported “The City [of San Antonio] has the right, and has removed, equipment in its rights-of-way, sidewalks, trails and trailheads that are identified as obstructions or hazards,” said John Jacks from the Center City Development and Operations Department (CCDO). “Any scooters that are left in the rights of way and collected by CCDO are given back to dockless vehicle companies.” However, the company is responsible for claiming the impounded scooters and may incur fees. 

Scooters create precaution for community

On campus, e-scooters have yet to pose a serious concern to the UTSA PD. “Currently, we are monitoring the motorized scooter ridership if there are any problematic safety issues that arise. I can only tell you what has been reported to UTSAPD and that is one scooter rider fell off of a scooter, but the rider was not seriously injured. There have been no reported crashes involving motorized scooters on campus and no reported pedestrian injuries from a motorized scooter,” said UTSA PD’s captain Douglas Sonego. 

However, precautions must be taken to ensure the continued safety of student riders. Captain Sonego reminds us that “Motorized scooters are like any other vehicle, they should be ridden safely and with regard for others walking and driving around them. Motorized scooters should not be brought into university buildings. As for this mode of transportation, I am sure the university administration will develop policies and rules regarding motorized scooters as needed.”

The scooter companies all claim that safety is a “top priority.” Bird, Lime and Blue Duck say their apps and labels on the scooters contain basic safety information, as well as training instructions. Bird requires users to upload a driver’s license and confirm they’re at least 18 years old. Bird and Blue Duck have programs that give helmets to riders who request them, and Lime notes that riders must go through an in-app tutorial on helmet safety to unlock one of the company’s scooters for the first time.” 

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