Bird scooters

Officer Felicia Glick said most incidents involve collisions between pedestrians and Bird scooters or skateboards.

Felicia Glick, JMU police officer for outreach and education, said the increase in skateboard-, scooter- and bicycle-related issues on campus is the reason for the enforcement of safety regulations regarding them. 

Scooters, hoverboards, and bikes, have to be treated as vehicles, and be driven in the street rather than sidewalks. Skateboards also count as vehicles, but they should be used on non-crowded sidewalks. It’s also recommended to wear a helmet and bright clothing. Lastly, more than one person cannot share rides, earphones are not allowed while riding bikes and all accidents must be reported to the police.

“Naturally, we didn’t recognize much last year because nobody was here, but it seemed to be an uptick in the fall, and it's purely for safety purposes,” Glick said. 

Glick said most accidents involve pedestrians colliding with people on Bird scooters and skateboards. She said these incidents are more frequent than those involving vehicles, especially with other factors involved. Glick said many students have two earbuds in when walking around on campus, but JMU Police Department only recommends one so students can be more aware of their surroundings.

Glick said she believes that often, especially when students are new to campus, they aren’t thinking of the cause and effect of their actions while riding.

“We have incidents where students are using the bicycle lanes that are on our streets, and they'll piggyback off cars,” Glick said. “We've had students get hit by gates, and that could be very serious. Our primary focus is the safety of everybody — pedestrians as well as people riding scooters or skateboards.”

To better enforce these regulations, JMU Police has officers patrolling and monitoring different areas, though Glick said JMU isn’t looking to punish students but would rather educate them. JMU Police is partnering with OSARP (Office of Student Accountability and Restorative Practices) to better educate students through social media and email.

“We’re not looking at any criminal charges with this issue,” Glick said.“That’s why we’re partnering with OSARP, so we can look at the dangerous part of the OSARP sanctions, or if necessary we could do restorative circles or mediation — certainly if someone is injured. 

Glick advised students to remain cautious when on campus.

“Heads up, and stay alert,” Glick said. “Be aware of your surroundings because there’s all kinds of obstacles, and we have to share the road and sidewalks.”

Senior communications major Mahogany Baker said she doesn’t ride Bird scooters, bikes or skateboards, as she typically walks or takes the bus, but she sees many others riding them. Baker said she wasn’t aware there were any regulations regarding those transportation modes.

“I think there are better ways for JMU to let students know about the regulations,” Baker said. “If I didn’t know anything about it, they aren’t well known.”

Baker said she doesn’t think pedestrians or riders are in danger but rather that the latter are very inconsiderate, saying that sometimes the riders have no regard for other people and pedestrians. 

“They kinda just weave in and out between people, and it kinda scares me,” Baker said. 

Baker said she’s also concerned about the riders taking to the streets with dangers like buses. 

“Two seconds, your life can end,” Baker said.

Senior international affairs major Lilith Mobley, on the other hand, uses a Bird scooter up to six times a week. 

“I don’t know about JMU’s regulations, but the Bird company wants them in specific places, and I think you’re supposed to wear a helmet while riding,” Mobley said. “I believe you’re not supposed to ride them on the sidewalk, but I don’t think they’re fast enough to be ridden on the road, so I do both.”

Mobley said they feel safe riding on campus, though someone they know once got into an accident with a Bird, resulting in minor injuries.

“She went through an accident, but I’m still riding even after something awful like that,” Mobley said. “Be courteous to other people when riding, and try not to go too fast when riding near people.”

Overall, the regulations are meant to keep students safe and healthy, and foster a secure living and learning environment.

Contact Kingston Thomas at thoma2ks@dukes.jmu.edu. For more coverage of JMU and Harrisonburg news, follow the news desk on Twitter @BreezeNewsJMU.