University of Maryland students say roadways are unsafe for micromobility, following a new campus safety campaign asking students to keep micromobility vehicles off of sidewalks.
On Feb. 6, university Vice President Carlo Colella launched the “Safety Starts with You” educational campaign. New signage and road markings were installed throughout the campus this week reminding motorists to share the road and micromobility riders to dismount and walk on sidewalks.
This is the first phase of changes the tiger team, a group of community experts working to address the issue, created last semester to mitigate the rise of micromobility safety complaints.
The goal is to create a culture of care and responsibility throughout the campus, Colella said in an interview Wednesday.
Micromobility vehicles are a range of lightweight, low-speed vehicles driven by users personally, such as bikes, e-scooters and skateboards. As they have grown in popularity, there has been an increase in unsafe riding practices on sidewalks, according to a statement from this university’s Department of Transportation Services.
“Staying on top of new trends means that we also have to experience some growing pains,” university President Darryll Pines told The Diamondback in an interview last week.
The campaign has raised concerns that forcing micromobility vehicles off of sidewalks could be dangerous.
Lucy Ramos, a sophomore English major, is an e-scooter rider who doesn’t feel safe riding on roads.
“I either feel like I am walking through a construction site or I’m in the middle of the road about to get hit by a car,” Ramos said.
Terps for Bike Lanes, a student organization that campaigns for safer micromobility infrastructure on the campus, sent an open letter to Pines criticizing the campaign for failing to protect micromobility users from dangerous road conditions.
The group did not receive a response to the letter as of Thursday, according to John Evans, graduate student and director of data analysis for Terps for Bike Lanes.
Evans, who joined the club after he had several frightening interactions with cars while riding his bike, said he is frustrated the university is focusing on individual responsibility, instead of implementing infrastructure changes that could protect riders.
“I think it’s insulting … bordering on gaslighting,” Evans said.
Yusara Sanchez, a freshman English major, said she doesn’t feel comfortable riding her scooter anywhere on the campus. She said she feels unsafe on roads, but worries about pedestrians on sidewalks.
Colella, the university vice president, said roadways are in adequate condition and are safe if students ride responsibly.
Senior finance and operations management and business analytics major Ayelette Halbfinger, who is this university’s Student Government Association president and a member of the tiger team, said the group was conceived to find interim solutions while long-term infrastructure changes happen on the campus, such as the construction of the Purple Line.
“It’s not something that we want to put off until a bureaucratic process of finding solutions and actually getting them approved … can happen,” Halbfinger said.
Currently, the only plans for bike lanes are incorporating bike lanes in the Purple Line construction, from west campus to Rossborough Lane. That construction is expected to last until late 2026.
Colella said the educational campaign is the first phase but expects the tiger team to work together for several more months.