Joshua Ceballos/Investigative Editor
The electric scooters seen zipping around campus may not be here for long, according to FIU officials.
While students have enjoyed the convenience of Bird Scooters for getting around campus since September, Housing and Residential Life’s Interim Senior Director Andrew Naylor said the scooters have caused serious damage in several dorm buildings, leading the department to consider banning them.
Some residents are riding the electric scooters inside of buildings such as Parkview Hall, University Towers and Everglades Hall and leaving deep, black skid marks across the floors, according to Naylor.
“The black marks are very hard to get out of the carpet in Parkview, and they’re impossible to remove from the hardwood in other dorms. We have to change the wood in those areas,” said Naylor to PantherNOW.
Naylor said that University Towers, in particular, has had the most issues because an FIU sports team lives there and many of their members got Bird scooters at the same time.
Naylor sent an email to all housing residents on Tuesday, November 12 saying that if students don’t cease riding scooters indoors immediately, Housing “will be forced to look at a ban.”
This wouldn’t be the first time that electric scooters are banned in Miami. Last June, the City of Miami banned companies such as Lime and Bird from deploying their scooters in the city due to safety concerns. Scooters returned in parts of the city in April of this year as part of a six-month pilot program that will end in December.
At FIU, Naylor said that similar concerns about safety due to the scooters’ high speed have led some officials in administration to observe them more closely.
“[The scooters] come with some safety issues. They’re very fast, if you don’t have control over them you can hurt somebody, and they’re clearly not made for riding in buildings,” said Naylor.
Wili Alvarez, the University safety officer, told PantherNOW that he has not seen any crashes involving scooters, but has heard reports of people feeling threatened by them because of how fast people drive. He has also seen a few parked incorrectly on sidewalks and in front of doors.
“People should use [scooters] responsibly and park them with thought of other people with the understanding that if they don’t, they will be eliminated,” said Alvarez. “Then the majority of our students would no longer have access to that form of transportation.”
Naylor said that students in housing will still be able to keep their scooters inside and charge them, but there will be no tolerance for riding them indoors.
Housing policies already prohibit the use of skateboards, bicycles and roller skates in the halls, and Naylor said that they will soon add electric scooters to the list. Scooters are already banned from residence halls at other Florida universities such as FSU.
FIU Police Chief Alexander Casas told PantherNOW that he can see how the scooters can be a nuisance, he’s seen several close calls where people have almost been hit but understands why people enjoy them.
“I can see how they’re convenient for getting around campus,” said Casas. “They definitely shouldn’t be used indoors. That’s an irresponsible use of an otherwise convenient form of transportation.
Bird Scooters has not responded to multiple requests for comment from PantherNOW.