On Aug. 18, Swarthmore Fleet Management announced to Swarthmore staff, students, and faculty via email that e-scooters and other small lithium battery-powered vehicles were to be prohibited effective Aug. 21. The email explained that although community members might find this news disappointing, the decision was made because of a concern about the potential dangers e-vehicles posed to the community.
“Last year alone, there were several e-scooter-related crashes, resulting in multiple injuries, as well as numerous reports of e-scooters traveling at high speeds and nearly colliding with community members or running individuals off of pedestrian pathways,” the email said.
According to the college, accidents involving e-vehicles have increased over the past couple of years. Associate Vice President of Campus Services Anthony Coschignano described several safety issues, not limited to collisions, with smaller e-vehicles.
“There was a growing concern because of the number [of] accidents and injuries, the speeding that was happening, and the growing concern of fires while charging those smaller types of vehicles,” Coschignano said.
To respond to these incidents, the college began to re-examine current safety measures regarding e-vehicles. Coschignano explained that the recent decision to ban smaller e-vehicles was a collective effort between the Office of General Counsel, Student Affairs, Facilities, Environmental Safety, and Worth Health Center. The group examined what other comparable campuses were doing in response to e-scooters.
The new policy has resulted in mixed reactions from the student body. Some students have reported a sense of relief after close misses and dangerous encounters with e-vehicles. However, as new technologies have advanced and e-scooters have popularized in cities around the world, some members of the community have begun to rely on the devices for transportation. Students also claim that transportation around campus remains a large issue due to the increase of construction and maintenance rendering large portions of campus and walkways unusable.
In an interview with The Phoenix, Kevin Meng ’25 described his concerns with the policy and mobility around campus, specifically its effect on international students on campus like himself who live off-campus. Off-campus residents require longer commutes to get to classes and activities, making e-scooters useful.
“Mobility around campus is still a huge concern,” Meng said. “I think the policy itself comes with good intentions, but it affects some communities disproportionately. A lot of international students choose to live off-campus, because we get kicked out of college housing every year for the holidays.”
Some international students, including Meng, found themselves in a position where they had already bought e-scooters for use during the fall semester, but are now unable to use them. Fleet Management is providing secure storage of previously purchased e-vehicles, but some students have resorted to selling their devices.
Still, Meng said that he finds the safety reasoning behind the ban to be “valid and acceptable.” He also shared a story of several e-scooters, including his own, being stolen and dumped in the Ville. However, he says that he had not heard of consistent problems with scooter theft before this policy.
In addition to storing e-vehicles during the semester, the college also noted that those requiring electric mobility aids for disabilities will be allowed to use them. Coschigano explained that his office has been working with Student Disability Services and ensuring accommodations for those who might need them.
“These policies are important for the campus, and the security and wellbeing of the campus is the most important thing we do.” Coschigano said.
That safety importance remains, as well as accessibility complexities that come with regulating the use of new technologies and transportation on campus. For now, previous e-scooter owners work to adapt to the ban.