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Thinking in Print: You don’t want Spin scooters back in Athens

As of March 15, Spin e-scooters have returned to Ohio University’s Athens campus. While they may be advertised as a sustainable and speedy source of travel, the cons outweigh the pros.

If the many e-scooter fail compilations weren’t enough to convince you, e-scooters can be extremely dangerous if not handled correctly. Spin scooters can go as fast as 15 miles per hour on flat surfaces, which can lead to serious injury if a crash were to occur. 

Two medical centers in Southern California saw 249 patients enter the emergency department with injuries from electric scooter use in a single year. These injuries ranged from fractures to soft-tissue injuries, with head injuries being the most common. While helmets are highly encouraged in Athens, they are not mandatory. Given the steep hills and rocky brick roads Athens is known for, the terrain provides far more opportunities for crashes to occur. 

Electric scooters will also be sharing the walkway with you. If an e-scooter rider checks their phone while speeding downhill, you won’t know until they hit you. While it may be relatively easy right now to avoid pedestrians with many students working remotely, Ohio University’s plans to have more in-person classes will expand the on-campus population and force e-scooters to cruise between classes through masses of congested students and increase the risk of collisions. 

The newness of e-scooters also means that cars they share the road with are unaware of e-scooter etiquette. Scooters are small compared to alternate forms of travel, such as bikes and motorcycles, and can be easy for a driver to miss. Over the course of three years, 27 deaths were related to e-scooters, with most being riders struck by motor vehicles. The others were pedestrians fatally struck by riders.

Sustainability was a key reason for introducing e-scooters on campus, yet there is debate on how sustainable e-scooters actually are. While they don’t emit carbon like cars, the shaky lifespan of e-scooters (believed to last around three months on average and one year for newer models) means that scooters are continually being scrapped and creating waste in a different way. Not everything recycles, and with 50% of an e-scooters carbon impact linked to their production, the high turnover rate still hurts the environment. 

North Carolina State University conducted a test revealing how e-scooters emit about 202 g of CO2 per km and per passenger over their entire life cycle -- which is about as much as a conventional car. While a car can be driven for several years though, e-scooters only last a year if they are lucky. Charging e-scooters is also done by employees driving around and picking up scooters, bringing them home to charge, and driving them to designated points the next day -- which emits carbon in and of itself. 

E-scooters are an innovative way to get around, but the risk of injuries to both riders and pedestrians will hurt Athens more than help it. 

Charlene Pepiot is a junior studying English at Ohio University. Please note that the views and opinions of the columnists do not reflect those of The Post. Want to talk more about it? Let Charlene know by emailing her

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