Austin summers are no joke. When it’s this hot, the last thing anyone wants to do is power walk across campus to class or take a stroll through downtown. Thankfully, you can pick up a dockless scooter or bike from basically anywhere, and for only a small cost.
With this new, quick mode of transportation for zipping around campus or downtown Austin, there are new risks and responsibilities. As riders, it is important to know the laws that apply to the scooters and bikes — and especially important to correctly park your scooter out of the way of pedestrians.
According to Chris Bonnet, UT Police Department field operations captain, the same rules that apply to bikes on campus also apply to these scooters, such as obeying the 15 mph speed limit and not riding on the sidewalks.
“It is the responsibility of anyone operating a vehicle to do so with proper caution,” Bonnet said. “We know that, at times, especially class change, the streets and intersections can be quite crowded as people rush to their next class, and anyone operating a scooter needs to be aware of their surroundings to avoid colliding with a pedestrian, or other vehicle.” Everyone needs to make it to class on time, regardless of mode of transportation. By following the laws in place for bikes and scooters, we can maintain campus safety for everyone.
When dockless vehicles — such as bikes and scooters that don’t have a specific parking location — began popping up in Austin, the city allied with dockless bike company Pace to create an emergency rule to regulate the use of them.
“We’ve taken a collaborative role with the city,” Austin Pace manager Chad Jacobs said. “From day one, they understood that bikes and scooters should have the ability to lock away from pedestrian pathways. The emergency rule requires that by Aug. 1, all dockless bikes and scooters have to feature a lock so that they can be parked away from pedestrian paths.”
By August all dockless bikes and scooters in Austin will be able to latch onto bike racks or poles, and be unlocked when you pay for a ride. Jacobs noted that the lock-to feature is good for preventing theft, but it is especially important for maintaining safe pedestrian walkways.
This feature helps handicapped people move safely and independently across campus or through Austin. In fact, the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 requires that sidewalks are always accessible. While people without disabilities can typically step off of a sidewalk safely in order to move around something such as a bike or scooter, people with mobility or vision issues cannot always do that. It’s vital that we maintain the safety and ADA compliance of our sidewalks by parking scooters out of the way. We need to clean up after ourselves.
Dockless bikes and scooters are great because you can pick one up and drop it off anywhere. Make sure to be alert and follow the laws when riding, however, and drop it off in a place that’s out of the way, such as a bike rack or against a fence. Longhorns need to follow the laws in place for these cool new dockless bikes and scooters in order to keep themselves and everyone around them safe.
Jingling is an English junior from Georgetown.