Students may soon face a $150 charge for incorrectly parking their Lime, Bird scooters

Gracie Awalt

Bird and Lime dockless scooters help students navigate the puzzle that is campus transportation. But if students aren’t more careful about where they park their scooters before rushing to class, they may have to pay. 

UT Parking and Transportation Services is working with the scooter companies to educate the student body about proper riding and parking procedure on campus, specifying that all motorized scooters need to be left near bike racks on campus. If these efforts do not succeed in the near future, there will be a $150 impound fee for
misplaced scooters.

Bobby Stone, director of Parking and Transportation Services, said he has staff members relocating scooters to bike racks around campus without charging fees so students will follow by example. 

“If we find that the community doesn’t react to the education process, then we’ll have to start impounding scooters because this conveys a strong message,” Stone said. “Our hope is that it solves our problems and
everyone learns.”

Stone said once a scooter is impounded, the corresponding company will be notified of the fee and will be responsible for charging the last scooter user.

“My assumption is that (Bird and Lime) would have to pass that fine down to whoever the last scooter user was,” Stone said. “They have a GPS system and things of that nature, so they’re going to know exactly who that last user was.”

Collin Morgan, Lime general manager for Austin and San Antonio, said in a statement that as well as working with the Parking and Transportation Services department at UT, Lime is also working with Austin Transportation Department and Austin Police Department to educate all riders.  

“We currently have in-app messages going out to riders this week in and around campus in conjunction with UT’s internal communications,” Morgan said in a statement. “In addition, Lime operations team members are on the ground throughout Austin to proactively remove any scooters they come across that are improperly parked.”

UT police officer Brett Watkins said scooters should follow traffic laws such as stopping at stop signs, yielding to other vehicles and operating as far right on the road as possible. 

“As far as safety goes, we really just want to get out to the students that we look at the scooters the same way as bicycles,” Watkins said. “Anywhere a bicycle would be operating is where we want the scooters to be operating.”

Stone said since scooter companies like Bird and Lime were established in locations such as Dallas, Parking and Transportation Services wanted to stay ahead of the curve and establish safety structure on campus.  

“When they came to Austin, we wanted to be proactive and give them a chance to succeed,” Stone said. “We wanted students to know there would be rules and regulations on how we wanted (scooters) to operate on campus because it’s so pedestrian dense.”

Molly Wick, human development and family sciences sophomore, said she watched motorized scooters gain popularity on campus and believes the scooters should be treated like any other motorized vehicle. 

“College students are prone to be reckless in any way, and I’ve definitely seen some kids just stop the scooter and keep walking and throw the scooter on the ground,” Wick said. “I’d say it’s worth it for this control to start happening.”