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Monday, April 15, 2024 — Houston, TX

New scooter policy reflects need to update micromobility infrastructure

By Thresher Editorial Board     9/12/23 10:43pm

Dean of Undergraduates Bridget Gorman and Chief Clemente Rodriguez of the Rice University Police Department unveiled Policy 854, the university’s new regulations on micro-transportation, in a Sept. 7 email. The policy, among other things, prohibits the operation of scooters and bicycles inside and at the entrances of university buildings, in addition to requiring operators of these vehicles to yield to pedestrians at all times. 

The recent changes to the rules of the road are reasonable and important. Day after day, the signs calling on cyclists to dismount in front of Brochstein Pavilion go unnoticed; the many cars, scooters, bicycles and shuttles that share the road make for a congested frenzy on the Inner Loop at midday. Near-accidents are far too common on our campus.

Other universities have recently taken more drastic measures to combat issues with micromobility devices. Yale University, for example, has outright banned unapproved electric vehicles from university residential properties due to fire and safety hazards. Harvard University has proposed a similar resolution to Rice’s that prohibits students from riding micromobility devices on their sidewalks and walkways and bans them entirely from Harvard-owned or operated buildings. We do not want a total ban of e-scooters on campus, so we ask both administration and students to consider what they can do to make this new policy actually effective.

Many of us students fear the theft of our bicycles, skateboards and scooters; although Rice can be perceived as a “bubble” sheltered from the rest of Houston, we are not immune from the issues that affect it. However, bringing these micromobility devices into classrooms and public building spaces is not a good solution. Rice needs to provide safe, accessible and abundant parking for micromobility devices.

Rice has come a long way since the first foundations of our university were laid in the early 1900s, yet many of our narrow roads and buildings remain mostly unchanged. 

The unfortunate reality is that as more students matriculate every year, some bringing with them their many scooters and bicycles, Rice’s infrastructure has not kept pace. 

It is, however, unrealistic to assume that only by tearing down our curvy roads and grandiose halls may we solve this issue; that would be, in itself, an extreme plan. Rice needs to turn to simple and fair plans, and we students need to work with the administration in a conscientious way.

Editor’s Note: Thresher editorials are collectively written by the members of the Thresher’s editorial board. Current members include Prayag Gordy, Riya Misra, Nayeli Shad, Brandon Chen, Sammy Baek, Sarah Knowlton, Hadley Medlock and Pavithr Goli.

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