While the sound of whirling wheels against concrete is not an unfamiliar one around campus, the sight of freshman Jamiyla Bolton gliding around the second floor of Morrison Residence Hall on a scintillating silver scooter prompts many students to stop and stare.
Bolton is one of many trailblazers who passed up inline skates and a bike to sport the latest trend of transportation to sweep the nation -- a new breed of collapsible scooters.
Although scooters might look like child's play, more often college students like Bolton and trendsetting adults are catching the recent craze.
The new aluminum scooters have inline-style wheels and rear-fender friction brakes for fast and easy stopping. The average scooter weighs about seven pounds and can be easily folded and stowed, convenient for the typical college student.
And as they grow in popularity, so do concerns about their safety.
Freshman Justin Lynch, a scooter owner, said, "They're a fun way to get around. You can fold them up and take them to class; they're very portable."
Popular models include the Razor, Kickboard and Xootr. They are sold everywhere from the local 7-Eleven to the more exclusive The Sharper Image, a chain of high-end specialty stores. Prices for the average scooter range from $30 to $150.
The scooter fad originated in Europe during the mid-1990s when scooters solved the problem of clogged streets and limited parking.
The new designs soon hit Asia, and by 1999 The Sharper Image began selling the product in the United States.