A new year, new semester and new era of on-campus transportation — UCF Student Government partnered with electric scooter-share company Spin to make e-scooters available to rent last week.
UCF SG President Kyler Gray and Vice President Madeline Mills fulfilled their flagship campaign promise on Jan. 13 when the administration secured 300 e-scooters on UCF’s main campus.
However, picking which company would provide the scooter-share service to UCF was not something that was done overnight.
Natalia Correa-Ferro, UCF SG financial allocations for organizations committee chair, said the consensus of legislative branch’s first session was not in support of e-scooters at first.
“Administration took the time to research and look at different companies and test ride five or six types of scooters to see what would be the most cost-efficient and beneficial to students,” Correa-Ferro said.
With the introduction of any vehicle and transportation service comes a set of rules and regulations to ensure safety.
UCF SG Director of Community Affairs Kevin Olsen said in a December press release that SG launched a rigorous process and worked with different departments before bringing Spin’s ride-share service to campus.
“Getting to this point took a lot of coordination and cooperation between Student Government, the UCF administration, and the UCF Police Department to ensure that we have a program that is safe and accessible to everyone,” Olsen said in the release.
The Orlando City Council voted unanimously to amended city code and establish a scooter ride-share pilot program in a December 2019 meeting, citing the environmentally sustainable benefits of the ride-share service.
According to UCF’s Proposed Regulation Amendment, there are some basic rules that students should keep in mind while using this service.
These range from using the scooters only on designated walkways and roads, not blocking or occupying marked parking spots and entering buildings.
But there are still some on-going conversations about safety concerns regarding the start of the football season this fall. Correa-Ferro said it has not been discussed in the senate yet.
“In the legislative branch, the concern we had was what would happen to the students when game day comes, when we have to deal with tailgates or students having to drive these scooters intoxicated,” Correa-Ferro said. “I’m hoping that on game days the company will come and pick them up and won’t be available for student use.”
Correa-Ferro said e-scooters automatically shut down if you try taking them off campus, unlike Lime Bikes which could easily be taken off-campus.
“You can’t even get it to turn on once it comes off campus, which gives it more of an incentive to stay on campus,” Correa-Ferro said. “Thus, saving money on lost scooters.”
According to a UCF SG press release, Lime’s contract with SG was for one academic year. Lime Bikes were removed from campus in June 2019.
Jenny Le, freshman health sciences major, was among the many students riding these scooters for the first time on Jan. 13, but fell as she tried to maneuver through the crowds.
“They go really fast so you want to make sure that you have good footing,” Le said. “I’ve never even ridden a bike before, but this seemed fun and easy. Also, 15 cents a minute is a really good price.”
Students said Spin’s mobile application recommends individuals to wear helmets while riding, but helmets are not offered as part of the rental.
“When you first open the app, they show you how to ride it and what rules to follow,” sophomore creative writing major Jeremy Singh said. “I didn’t wear a helmet because I own a helmet, and it doesn’t appear that anyone else does either.”
According to its website, Spin offers a discount on folding helmets, which can fit into a backpack and are easy to carry with during the day.
“This has been one of the most popular platform points and we are proud to be partnered with a company that we know will cater to UCF students’ needs,” Olsen said in the December release. “There’s no doubt that this will add to the already positive atmosphere of our campus …”