Picture this. Getting your morning coffee took a little too long today. You have exactly four minutes to get to your class which is normally a 10-minute walk. What do you do? Run? Absolutely not. You scooter.
The future of transportation across college campuses is electric scooters — and the students want it now.
NIU’s campus is approximately 800 acres, or over 600 football fields. The average time between back-to-back classes is 10 minutes. If you’re as unlucky as Jacob Trapp, a junior psychology major who’s got his classes on opposite ends of campus, you’re not making it to class on time without some help.
“Look, I have a class in Wirtz Hall that ends at 9:50 a.m.,” Trapp said. “Then, I have a class all the way across campus in DuSable at 10:00 a.m. Without doing some serious speed walking or dare I admit, running, I would not make it to class on time. An electric scooter would honestly be super helpful and so much fun.”
Students may remember NIU’s brief venture with VeoRide’s bike-sharing program a few years back. This program provided bicycles for use around campus.
Laura Lundelius, director of Campus Services, reflects fondly on the program, but not of the company behind the bikes.
“The VeoRide bike program was going very well, but then lots of bike-share companies got into electric scooters,” Lundelius said. “VeoRide wanted to introduce e-scooters too and told NIU that they’d have to implement e-scooters in order to keep the bike programs. NIU’s parking services didn’t know enough about the rules and regulations concerning e-scooters at the time and rejected the offer, thus discontinuing the bike program. VeoRide tried to twist our arm into it — we just weren’t ready for that.”
Finally, the mystery surrounding the disappearance of the bikes was revealed — gone because of politics. Since NIU’s 2019 decision to not adopt e-scooters, many campuses and cities across the nation, including Chicago, have. With more information and data available on e-electric scooters now than ever, chances of them coming to NIU look unfortunately grim.
“Campus parking services will no longer manage programs like the bike rental program or scooters,” Lundelius said. “The parking program is their main responsibility, and there’s simply not enough staffing or funding to handle an electric scooter program at this time. Another department would need to see to it, but I’m not sure which.”
This is a shame. Electric scooters could be a major selling point for NIU. Prospective students often factor in the walkability and transportation options of college campuses. Electric scooters would allow NIU to compete with more urban, larger universities in a way they have not been able to do before.
Alana Young, a sophomore communications major, also believes that electric scooters would benefit student life. “Walking around campus during the winter absolutely blows, it’s so windy,” Young said. “The bikes were nice while they lasted because it slashed my outdoor travel time by a ton. I’m not going to wait on the bus to travel down campus, it’s just not convenient in the way scootering would be. Heck, I’d pay for this kind of convenience.”
Biking against the midwest’s cold breeze is the coldest story ever told. I didn’t last more than two weeks this semester. Skateboarding? Forget it.
Scootering, however, doesn’t require the same skill that a bike does. It’s accessible, an environmentally sustainable way to navigate around campus, and safer. Since 2018, 30 people have been killed in an electric scooter accident, according to the Associated Press.
And they’re fun. I had a blast last summer riding e-scooters through Chicago and Denver with my friends. No prior practice was necessary, we just jumped on them and cruised down Denver’s 16th Mall street until we ran out of pocket money.
Having had a taste of the good life once before, students are craving convenient transportation. After a hard couple of years in a pandemic, the students at NIU deserve some scooters.