Some students at the University of Maryland who ride e-scooters said they face difficulties charging their scooters — an issue transit advocates hope to solve.
E-scooters are not allowed inside this university’s residential buildings, but residents need to have access to dry, protected electrical outlets to charge e-scooters, creating a charging paradox for some e-scooter users.
The charging issues come amid a rapid rise in micromobility vehicle use on campus. This university’s Department of Transportation Services saw more than 1,700 students register their vehicles during the first week of this month when they started requiring micromobility users to register their vehicles with DOTS.
“We’re also starting conversations in our Residential Facilities committee, trying to find outdoor charging stations that aren’t a hazard,” said junior government and politics major Quentin Hoglund. “It all goes back to safety.”
Hoglund, who is vice president of this university’s Residence Hall Association, said the charging issue is an ongoing conversation for the RHA and other university departments. The groups’ goal is to find an outdoor charging solution that is not a fire hazard, won’t damage the scooters and will prevent scooter and charger theft, Hoglund said.
At the direction of this university’s fire marshal office, electric mobility vehicles are prohibited from entering all university buildings. E-scooters and similar equipment can be a fire hazard, cause injury, damage or overload electrical circuits and damage physical facilities and furniture, according to this university’s 2022-2023 residential hall handbook.
DOTS, the residence life department, Facilities Management and fire marshal’s office are “evaluating options” for the safe storage and charging of micromobility vehicles, according to a spokesperson for this university, but they’re unlikely to come soon.
“Researching, funding, procuring and installing these types of amenities takes time, and they are unlikely to be available in the short term,” they said in the statement. “Students should consider that charging and storage resources are limited when determining whether to bring their vehicle to campus.”
Students who are found to have e-scooters inside buildings must remove the scooters within 24 hours or risk a disciplinary or administrative referral
DOTS’ BikeUMD initiative recommends students store scooter batteries in a cool, dry place between 32 degrees Fahrenheit to 86 degrees Fahrenheit. Segway, a company that produces micromobility vehicles, warns scooter users not to park outdoors for a long time in the user manual for their e-scooter model, Ninebot.
Students also said outdoor electrical outlets are sparse and pose the risk of their chargers being stolen.
Joslyn Kim, a sophomore enrolled in letters and sciences, lives in Denton Hall and uses her e-scooter to get around campus. She said she tries to charge her scooter outside 251 North Dining Hall, but often can’t find an outlet to use.
“The biggest issue is probably that there aren’t as many outlets given the number of students who use e-scooters,” Kim said.
The Student Government Association’s transportation and infrastructure committee has been brainstorming solutions to the shortage.
Paisley Brockmeyer, the SGA transportation and infrastructure director, said installing charging ports on campus to address the issues would require extensive collaboration between departments such as DOTS, Facilities Management and the residence life department.
Though there is student enthusiasm to find a solution to scooter charging, other infrastructure projects at this university have seen better success. This month, DOTS launched the Bikeways project — a one-year feasibility study and preliminary design process for campus bike lanes — and this university announced that its electric bus fleet could be operational by summer 2026.