Take Our Quiz on ‘Micromobility’ Options for a Safe Trip Across Campus
Photo illustrations by Kolin Behrens
An e-scooter can be a fast and fun way to get to class—or send you on a quick trip to the University Health Center. It depends in great part on how seriously you follow “micromobility” safety guidelines.
The sharp rise in popularity of these convenient and environmentally friendly options—including e-bikes, e-scooters and e-skateboards (along with their people-powered equivalents)—is raising concerns about risky behaviors. That prompted the University of Maryland’s Department of Transportation Services (DOTS) to debut an education campaign today to encourage everyone in the campus community to help create a safe transportation environment.
“People are getting out of their cars and are adopting more sustainable and accessible modes of transportation,” said Marta Woldu, assistant director of sustainability for DOTS. “They’re popular not just here but around the region and globally, and that shift requires additional education and intervention at multiple levels.”
DOTS began partnering with the e-bike and e-scooter operating company VeoRide in Fall 2019 with 220 of the battery-powered vehicles. The pandemic slowed their use, but now the campus has approximately 400 e-scooters and e-bikes, along with at least 200 registered private e-scooters and bicycles. The number of rides on or near campus has also skyrocketed, from over 139,000 trips in Fall 2021 to 190,000 in Fall 2022.
With that has come a rising number of instances of e-scooters zigzagging around pedestrians or vehicular traffic in busy areas, or getting in accidents. A lack of situational awareness from using earbuds, headphones or phones has sometimes played a role.
Any mode of transportation carries risk, but people not encased in protective cars or trucks face unique vulnerabilities. The Consumer Product Safety Commission reported over 42,000 emergency room visits from e-scooter riders in 2021, up from 7,700 in 2017.
The university’s new campaign, “Safety Starts With You,” includes new signs, fliers and ads across campus with links to safety tips and guidelines on safe practices across all modes of transportation. DOTS is also hosting a helmet giveaway, and a student video contest will be announced on Friday. Prizes will also be awarded randomly to takers of this quiz below: How well do you know e-scooter safety at UMD?
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