City Council has recently passed an ordinance that would allow electric bikes and scooters on campus, but their arrival time is still unknown.
Electric transportation has become an increasingly popular trend in Ohio. In many cases, e-scooter companies have shown up unexpectedly, taking these big cities by surprise and leaving legislators scrambling to find ways to regulate them.
“We were preemptive in passing legislation before these companies showed up,” Councilman Peter Kotses, D-At Large, said. “We heard enough stories about cities that just kind of received them in the middle of the night and then had massive issues...so what we wanted to do was kind of set some rules to get ahead for when these systems are put in place.”
One of the major benefits of having the electric transportation on campus is the possibilities that could result from using the data collected from each ride, Kotses said.
Each time the scooters are used, data are collected showing their exact route. That data would allow officials to pinpoint where the majority of rides are going to see if there are any specific areas in which the current transportation system is lacking. The scooters would provide an alternative to the inaccessible transportation or allow changes to be made to better the current system.
Other data collected by the scooters would show a breakdown of users by gender and age, the number of small vehicles in circulation at any given time, daily, weekly and monthly active users and small vehicle usage, including total user miles and the number and duration of rides per user each day, according to the ordinance.
Many students are excited about the arrival of electric scooters, while others don’t find them necessary.
“I think bringing e-scooters is a really good idea,” Ashlynn McKee, a freshman studying photojournalism, said. “All progressive cities have them nowadays, so I think it could potentially be a really good thing for Athens.”
While some students are in agreement that they would try using the scooters at least once, they don’t think that it would become a part of their daily commute to class. Some students voiced their concerns about the money aspect of using the scooters and whether it was worth using them during the short commute to class.
Most rental scooter companies charge a set amount of money per minute of usage, and that could add up for someone using them daily.
“I would really only use them for my farthest classes,'' said Chloe Oleyar, a freshman studying sociology and criminology. “I’m already in debt and I wouldn't want to spend my money on that every day.”
The limited availability of space on campus is also a big concern for people hearing about the possibility of electric scooters.
“I think it’s a really fun idea but with the amount of traffic you see in Athens, cars and people walking to class, it would get insane and really crowded,” said Mia Lewis, a sophomore studying biological sciences.
Aside from concerns about the amount of space the electric scooters would take up, Lewis also pointed out that everything on campus is within walking distance.
“In my opinion, It’s really not necessary to take an electric scooter or bike to class because of how small the campus is. Everything is within walking distance.”
“I see people getting to class on their own electric scooters all the time anyway,” Lewis said.
Kotses confirmed that at least four or five companies have actually been to Athens so far, looking into the city and discussing what sets their own electric rental company above the others.
“There was some question of whether the technology would be able to work around here, mostly because of our brick streets and also because of our hills in Athens. Hills could run out the battery life of these things much quicker,” Kotses said. “I don’t know where these companies are now that the legislation has gone through, or if they’re still coming. I haven’t heard anything since that initial reach out.”