Light & Verity

Slowing their roll

Safety concerns leading to a ban on electric bikes and scooters.

Greg Clarke.

Greg Clarke.

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When Yale grew by two residential colleges six years ago, their distance from the heart of campus inspired students to bring vehicles for getting around faster. First there were bicycles, and then, to avoid the hassle of locks, came the scooters, the skateboards, and the occasional pair of roller blades. Speed was of the essence, and some students wanted more of it, so electric scooters—like the handlebar ones that kids ride, only with twice the footprint and up to four times the horsepower—caught on. Soon they were everywhere, humming as they raced past the colonnade of Commons or beneath the canopy of Hillhouse Avenue at 15 to 25 miles per hour.

This fall, however, things were different. Just before students returned to campus, the university announced that battery-powered scooters—and devices like them—would be banned from campus residences, courtyards, and other common areas, due to the “severe fire and safety hazard” they pose. There are noticeably fewer around now. Still, some students living off-campus use scooters to cut down their commutes to class or the gym.

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