New scooter rules, regulations likely coming to University of Texas campus in 2019

Chase Karacostas

A group of campus officials released a set of recommendations this week to increase regulations on commercial scooters around campus, including “aggressive” impounding of scooters violating University rules, starting in the spring.

The recommendations came out of a report produced by representatives from the office of the senior vice president and chief financial officer, as well as Parking and Transportation Services, University of Texas police and other administration officials. Along with ratcheting up scooter impounding, the report also recommended requiring companies to reduce the maximum speed of scooters to 8 mph from 15 mph, designate specific parking areas for scooters around campus and develop a cohesive education plan for scooter use on campus.

Darrell Bazzell, the senior vice president and CFO, requested a work group to analyze commercials scooters on campus be formed in November after six months of UT constantly adapting its policies around the increasingly popular transportation alternative, according to the report.

Along with shifting policies, the University has also had to deal with accidents resulting in injuries to students and faculty, which are a growing public health issue surrounding the scooters. University Health Services treated more than three times as many scooter injuries than bike injuries from September to November, leading to the report’s emphasis on rider education.

Another part of the plan would be to educate riders about the hazardous conditions that can be created by improper riding or parking of scooters. Specifically, the report mentions the issues of blocked walkways that can impede emergency evacuations or affect accessibility for those with disabilities.

The report also recommended, if designated parking areas are created, PTS publicize and provide incentives for use by riders. One listed solution involves asking companies to provide ride credits to users who move scooters to proper parking locations.

To coincide with increased impounding, which costs the scooter companies $150 per scooter plus $25 per day for storage, the report also said UTPD should be allowed to issue PTS tickets for improper handling or use of scooters.

Finally, the report said UT employees, including faculty, staff and student workers, should all be required to wear helmets when operating the scooters as a component of safe employee conduct.

None of the recommendations have been implemented yet, but in a letter sent to Student Government and four other faculty and student groups on campus, Bazzell said he would like to start implementing changes before students return in January.