The Daily Tar Heel

Serving the students and the University community since 1893

Thursday September 29th

Column: Reflecting on the electric scooter epidemic

UNC junior Jonpaul Escobal rides his electric scooter down Pittsboro Street in Chapel Hill, N.C. on Friday, Sept. 9, 2022.
Buy Photos UNC junior Jonpaul Escobal rides his electric scooter down Pittsboro Street in Chapel Hill, N.C. on Friday, Sept. 9, 2022.

I think we’re progressing backwards.

When a full grown college male passes, or should I say rolls, by you on what could be called the adult version of the hoverboard, you know it’s time to address the rising, campus-wide epidemic: the electric scooter (and now hoverboard, apparently) invasion.

We’ve had mopeds whiz by us. We’ve moved out of the way for bikers. You might even have encountered a motorized skateboard passing you on your walk to class. But if you haven’t already noticed, there’s a new two-wheeled vehicle on the scene.

It’s like we didn’t learn anything from the e-scooter chaos of 2019. Cities literally banned them when sidewalks seemed to be littered with the clunky vehicles more than actual litter. For every five students walking to class, we can now expect to see at least one or two scooter riders (scootees?) trailing behind, desperately trying to weave around them.

Forget pedaling your bike or God forbid, walking, up and down campus’ various hills – scooting students are now flying up them at unreasonable speeds, the buzzing hum of each passing motor doubling as a mocking laugh that says to each on-foot observer, “I can see your sweat through your shirt, come and join me.”

This opinion writer is taking a stand — I will not come and join you!

I get it, especially on UNC’s campus in the late August-early September heat. You get to class faster. You don’t enter the room looking like you just ran a 5K. It feeds your superiority complex to speed past the uninspired individuals who’ve opted to walk. Okay, that was harsh, but why is it that everyone who owns one of these things has grade A posture and the perfect “I don’t look weird, you look weird” riding stance, even though they’re the ones arriving on a child's toy to their college classes? 

The primary scooter users seem to be UNC athletes, so maybe their legs are so tired from whatever athletic activities they’re up to (don’t ask me) that it physically pains them to walk. Maybe I wouldn’t understand, because I’m a non-athlete to my core. Maybe I’m writing out of subconscious jealousy. We’ll never know.

It has also come to my attention that, to no one’s surprise, these e-scooters are very expensive. I consulted the Electric Scooter Guide’s website, and they’re in the range of $300 to over $600. And all of a sudden they’re everywhere? The e-scooter audience seems awfully specific and very small — these two-wheeled vehicles are in no way accessible.

I’m choosing to be serious now, and taking this whole scooter thing with a grain of salt. The electric scooter invasion is not totally unreasonable, I just wonder how it grew so quickly. They do blend more conspicuously than the campus bikers of olden days (where did they go?) and I have no doubt they save students lots of time. But my other question is, what are they doing with all of that saved time? Can a scootee let me know?

I guess I’m just asking the scooter riders among us to go easy. I might be walking slower than you can scoot, so maybe an occasional “on your left!” would be nice instead of almost getting run over. 

I also apologize for my cynicism — this might be a good time to admit I was never among the lucky children that were gifted electric scooters for Christmas. So with that, scoot on and wear your helmets.

@dthopinion

opinion@dailytarheel.com

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