Who could support an endeavor that impairs civil governance and threatens public safety? Typically, not the town of Chapel Hill, but when it comes to Bird scooters, all principles have apparently flown out the window.
Undeniably, the motorized scooter industry has great marketable appeal — especially in college towns where buses are late, parking is expensive and biking is unsafe. Even walking has its frustrations; some people on campus walk so slowly that it seems their heels are actually stuck in tar. Plus, society’s return to simplistic traveling solutions amidst calls for astronomically pricey light rail systems is refreshing. Perks aside, we need to tap the breaks and ask ourselves: Will this work for Chapel Hill?
The scooters briefly appeared in Chapel Hill this past August for a “University Pop-Up Tour,” a promotional attempt by Bird geared toward its target consumers: college students. Many students expressed enthusiasm about the fun and convenience of the scooters, and the university itself was fairly receptive of the business, even agreeing to explore a partnership to eventually return them to campus.
But it’s not quite so simple. The scooter company has a history of ruffling the feathers of municipal governments across the country, yet it continues to identify the communities with no restrictive laws to operate until they create such a nuisance that they are forced leave. Many cities and colleges across the United States have already banned the scooters, including the University of Missouri and Cleveland State University.
Traffic regulation in Chapel Hill is already a problem. A main issue is the identity crises faced by bikers who cannot decide whether they want to behave as cars or pedestrians. This poses obvious safety hazards for both walkers and drivers, and adding Bird scooters to the mix may convenience the person on the scooter, but only at the expense of everyone else.