UMD scooter parking spots to get racks following student concerns about security

A warning tag was attached to an incorrectly parked scooter on Washington Quad by University of Maryland Department of Transportation. (Gabby Baniqued/The Diamondback)

Following student backlash over security concerns, the University of Maryland will begin installing racks in scooter parking spaces as soon as next week, DOTS director David Allen said.

The 27 e-scooter parking sites on campus — which the university created after the Department of Transportation Services rolled out new safety regulations — do not feature racks or poles students can use to physically lock their scooters in place. This has raised criticism that the new rules are incompatible with scooter brands that don’t lock remotely or via an app, such as Gotrax or Ninebot.

Last semester, students often stored their scooters inside their dorms or in bike rooms inside of their residence halls. While the community living standards outlined in the Department of Resident Life’s Community Living Handbook had previously banned this practice, the policy wasn’t actively enforced until this semester.

During mid-year inspections last fall, Resident Life spokesperson Tracy Kiras said resident assistants found a lot of scooters stored in dorms. So, the department distributed educational materials to remind students of the policy, she said.

[Read more: New rules at UMD require e-scooters to be parked in designated locations]

However, before this semester, students haven’t been formally penalized when scooters were found in the dorm. Over the break, RAs began documenting any instances where scooters were found, Kiras said. Now, under the new regulations, scooters parked outside of designated parking locations are subject to impoundment, relocation or fines.

The university also began enforcing traffic violations on scooters riding in sidewalks on Feb. 3, according to a campuswide email from DOTS. Now, they “must be operated on the road and follow all traffic laws,” the email read.

“The foundation of our program and the values we hold dear is safety and we are committed to providing a safe environment,” Kiras said, adding that banning scooters from residence halls falls in line with recommendations from the Fire Marshall’s office.

[Read more: College Park will have nearly 300 new scooters, bikes available to rent this semester]

Parhum Ghassemi, a sophomore environmental science and policy major at this university, expressed his concerns on the updated scooter policy in a letter to university President Wallace Loh, writing that prohibiting scooters in dorms would make it difficult for students to charge and store them safely.

“The new scooter policies are not the right way to deal with scooters,” wrote Ghassemi, who owns a Gotrax scooter. “I understand how important safety is, but some of these new policies actually make scooter riding less safe.”

Even though Morgan Craver rents a scooter from Bird — a company that allows users to lock their devices remotely — she expressed similar concerns as Ghassemi. Craver, a junior astronomy major, explained that the Bird app recommends that users lock their scooters.

“[It’s] just an extra precaution, like how we need both a password and a Duo [verification] to log onto our UMD accounts,” she said.

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