As students settle back into routine, they’ll notice that Lime scooters have reappeared around campus, this time more abundant than ever.
Following the success of the Lime pilot program, a partnership with the city of Spokane, the bright green scooters and bikes have returned.
A few modifications have been made, namely in relation to scooters on campus, that includes a GPS enforced speed limit, nightly “balancing” and a change in the helmet policy.
Jim Simon, director of the Office of Sustainability, has worked with the company and the city throughout the process to ensure the safety and accessibility needs of Gonzaga are being met.
“We are under the belief that if something is happening in the city then we need to be responsive and responsible and work with that company to govern and facilitate the scooters and bikes to be on campus as well,” said Simon.
In the fall, the scooters were allowed on campus, but they were not able to be “balanced,” Simon said.
Balancing is the system in which Lime scooters and bikes are picked up and moved around the city overnight, in order to ensure that they will be where they are in high demand the following morning, like GU’s campus.
"It's kind of like when Cinderella's carriage turned into a pumpkin at night," Simon said. "Well, similarly, at night, they come and move the scooters and bikes around."
By not allowing scooters to be balanced in the fall, they would not be seen around campus as frequently as they are now.
“Any scooter that was on campus was there by the nature of the rider,” Simon said.
Now, the scooters are allowed to be balanced nightly by the company so long as its speed is regulated by a geo-fence that has been placed around the campus. The scooters now slow down considerably to 7 mph when they are ridden anywhere on campus.
“The speed boundary definitely has an impact,” said sophomore Ethan McReynolds. “It hasn’t stopped me from using them altogether, but it has stopped me from using them to get to class.”
According to McReynolds, the scooters were most convenient when he needed to get to class quickly. Now that the scooters can no longer be ridden through campus as quickly, he would rather walk than spend the money to get there just a bit quicker.
In exchange for the speed, students and riders in general are no longer required to wear helmets when riding the scooters. Although according to McReynolds this is not an impactful update.
“I never wore a helmet,” he said. “But I do know it was a safety issue.”
Aside from safety, Simon said there is an opportunity to think about the sustainable side of things with the return of the scooters.
“There are a lot of rides that are done for recreation, but there are also a lot of rides that are done in place of commutes,” Simon said. “I think that’s just noteworthy that we can account for some carbon emission savings.”
Behind the scenes, a heat map can be seen of the most ridden roads. This ultimately can help determine which roads would be best for new bike lanes.
In the end, Simon said there are still things that can be done and while it has only been a week with a high density of students on campus to use them, he thinks the scooters are ultimately going to be good for everyone.
“I think there is some work to be done to regulate Lime from a Lime perspective, but they are responsive to our constant call for safety and I think that’s the most important thing,” Simon said.