Column: A closer look into the Bird scooter craze at Liberty University
Bird migration came early this year. Everywhere students look, they can expect to see birds flying by them.
But there is something unique about these birds. You won’t find them in the air or in the trees — try looking on the streets. That’s right, Bird scooters have nested themselves onto Liberty University’s campus due to the work done by the Student Government Association last semester. Last year, the arrival of Bird scooters was an alluding promise that was finally fulfilled at the beginning of the 2019 fall semester.
Now that they have arrived, are the Bird scooters living up to all the excitement that surrounded them? Join me as we dive into the questions people are asking about the scooters and how they are affecting campus.
First, we have to pull the mom card — where are the helmets? We do not want poor little Jimmy getting injured while taking a spin on the Bird scooters, do we? Although helmets are not a requirement for the Bird scooters, there are many safety concerns that can arise when overly eager college students hop on a scooter for a joy ride around campus.
According to the Bird website, they encourage the use of helmets while using the scooter, but the last time I looked around, helmets are the least of people’s concerns. I am not suggesting that every Bird scooter rider should have a Disney princess helmet clipped onto their backpack at all times in case of using a Bird, but we must keep in mind this safety aspect and ask if helmets need to be provided by SGA for the safety of the students using them.
Another facet of safety concern is WHERE is the best place to ride the scooters? In recent years, Liberty’s campus has acquired bigger sidewalks that allow pedestrians walking to get to and from classes more directly. Along with the walking students, there are also skateboarders and bicyclers that pass through. Now, the bird scooters have made their way into the mix of foot traffic.
If you look on the Bird app or website, the company wants their users to stay off the sidewalks to allow riders a clearer path and pedestrians more safety. They suggest that riders use the bike lanes on city streets if they are provided. Here we are at a crossroads, for Liberty’s campus does not provide bike lanes on roads.
If we look around campus, most Bird users choose to scoot around on the sidewalks and not the streets due to the lack of bike lanes, but this decision could be putting walking students at more of a risk of getting hit by an electric scooter. This is a dilemma for students wanting to use the scooters but are not wanting to ride on University Boulevard.
This could be something that SGA might want to discuss to enhance the longevity of the Birds on campus.
How about the effectiveness of these motorized scooters? Are they a positive or negative addition to campus? Although I prefer manual Razor scooters, I am all for new advancements in transportation technology.
We must assess if the scooters are actually what is best for the student body. Are more people using them to get to and from class or just taking them out for a fun time? Both are reasonable excuses, but what are the limitations to a fun ride.
Although “X Game” mode on the scooters are prime content for viral videos, are these electronic scooters really meant to fly down the hill behind the Freedom Tower?
The Bird scooters do effectively transport students from Green Hall to DeMoss Hall, but this luxury could be stripped away if students aren’t more responsible with the scooters.
As seen in the last issue of the Champion, Dereck Rockey, student body president, informed the student body that SGA is looking into giving students the option to pay for Bird scooters with Flames Cash or a debit card. If accomplished, students may be able to purchase more rides around campus.
This modern transportation company has been able to make getting from one place to another fun and efficient. Electric scooters have taken an average millennial’s ride to work a more exciting one. In big cities, you can expect to find a Bird scooter, or one similar to it, on every block.
Now Liberty’s campus has that cool, modern factor. Will it last?
Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article reflect the views of the author and not The Champion or its publisher.