March 6, 2019

Bird Electric Scooter
Photo courtesy of Bird Rides.
Electric Bikes and Scooters on Campus
In less than 18 months, electric bikes and scooters have taken towns, cities, and campus communities by surprise. They appeal to a variety of people who are concerned with pollution from cars and fossil fuels, costs associated with owning a car, and limited parking. Often at the forefront of new technology and innovative solutions, students on campus can find these issues to be especially important. Leading electric scooter and bike companies, such as Bird, Lime, and Spin, operate using an app-based system where users can locate an available e-scooter, unlock it, and use it - assuming you can find a charged one. This all sounds ideal until people realize e-scooters are dockless. E-scooters can end up scattered all over campus once riders are finished, unless there is a well thought out plan in place to address this concern.
Creating more regulations on campuses is always challenging and at some institutions of higher education, students have been displeased with new guidelines around e-scooters. At Michigan State University (MSU), students are required to park their e-scooters in metered parking spaces or obtain a moped parking permit. In fall 2018, MSU impounded 176 scooters due to students failing to abide by the rules, according to a report from Inside Higher Ed, and they were not alone. Indiana University impounded 150 e-scooters in just 20 days and retrieving them is the responsibility of the e-scooter company.
Each e-scooter can cost $40-$50 to recover. The cost for an e-scooter found impeding an ADA ramp or other accessible pathway could cost $100 to retrieve. In a November 28, 2018 article, students at Troy University highlighted their concerns about electric bikes and scooters causing problems for not only students and campus community members with physical disabilities but even families with children.
The biggest concern for campuses still remains safety. Their ease of use allows students to just grab and go e-scooters without thinking ahead, specifically when it comes to utilizing standard safety gear such as helmets. A recently released study looked at 249 patients admitted to two urban emergency departments associated with an academic medical center in Southern California. Of the patients, 91.6% were riders and only 10, or 4.4%, were wearing helmets. Further observation of 193 riders at local intersections found similar numbers. The authors state, "Riders share roads with fast-moving vehicular traffic but appear to underestimate hazards; we found that 94.3% of observed riders in our community were not wearing a helmet."
Spin, Bird, and Lime each dedicate a section of their websites to safety, encouraging riders to follow helmet laws and park safely by curbsides, and advising on where to ride (in bike lanes or close to the curb unless local laws allow otherwise). Bird even offers a free helmet to all active riders. The rider simply needs to cover shipping costs.
It's unlikely e-scooters and bikes will be disappearing anytime soon as they expand to more cities and campuses. Building a relationship with the company before they come to campus or preparing for the possibility they may come to your campus with clearly defined and communicated regulations for parking, riding, and safety awareness is the most proactive approach to take.

Preparing for Minors on Campus
As engaged members of their communities, colleges and universities often host programs and events for the general public---including minors. In addition to minors visiting campus with family or friends, activities such as camps, summer classes, childcare, and tutoring programs bring minors to campuses, many of whom will be unaccompanied by their own parents or guardians. Some will even arrive as first-year college students.
The presence of minors on campus requires colleges and universities to manage a variety of risks ranging from premises liability to medical exposures, kidnapping threats, sexual abuse claims, and other concerns. In turn, campuses must ensure that faculty members, staff, students, and volunteers are adequately trained and aware of their responsibilities. State law often requires criminal background checks for individuals who will be interacting with youth. C olleges and universities should consider reviewing their background-check policies to ensure compliance with state law.
Several resources exist to help campuses identify and mitigate the risks associated with minors on campus.
  • The National Center for Campus Public Safety offers a free, on-demand webinar, Planning for the Safety of Minors: Routine and Emergency Situations, which can help campuses develop safety and emergency protocols for minors. Ann H. Franke, Esq., a national expert on higher education legal and risk issues, explores topics related to maintaining contact information, third-party management, lost children, and other subjects. A list of resource materials for youth protection mentioned during the presentation is available for download (PDF).
  • Colleges and universities can download the United Educators' checklist (PDF) of behavioral standards for adults interacting with minors on campus.
  • Managing the Risk of Minors on Campus (PDF) contains information to help managers, administrators, and campus officials identify and manage risks associated with minors on campus. Published in 2012 by the Arthur J. Gallagher Think Tank for Higher Education Risk Management, it describes some of the specific risks that institutions of higher education face, as well as strategies for managing those risks. It also reviews best practices, criminal background checks, volunteer application information, sample policies on minors, medical care authorizations, how to prevent sexual abuse of minors, and other topics.
  • The Higher Education Protection Network (HEPNet) promotes best practices for higher education institutions that provide youth programming and resources. The organization's website provides research and guidance on child abuse, managing camp liability, monitoring protection efforts, and other subjects.
  • The American Camp Association (ACA), a professional association for camp leaders, can help colleges and universities identify risk, promote safety, and improve programs via its Camps on Campus site. Its searchable resource library offers crisis communications materials, tips for addressing mental health, and a variety of other toolkits, handouts, reports, and other resources. The ACA also offers several low-cost online training resources, including:
Welcoming minors on campus is part of the role colleges and universities play as community pillars, and protecting those minors is a crucial aspect of that role. Institutions of higher education that are interested in learning more can save the date for the Higher Education Protection Network's 2019 conference in October.

Professional Development Opportunities

Title: The ADA for Justice Professionals
Organization: Justice Clearinghouse
Date: March 14, 2019 at 1:00 PM ET
Location: Online
Fee: Free
Title: 29th Annual IPMBA Conference
Organization: International Police Mountain Bike Association
Dates: April 8-13, 2019
Location: Fort Worth, TX
Fee: Registration fee
Title: Child Advocacy Centers: An Essential Part of Your "Youth Protection Toolbox"
Organization: Higher Education Protection Network
Date: April 23, 2019 at 12:30 PM ET
Location: Online
Fee: Free

For additional trainings and events, access our searchable online calendar

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This project was supported by Grant No. 2013-MU-BX-K011 awarded by the Bureau of Justice Assistance. The Bureau of Justice Assistance is a component of the Office of Justice Programs, which also includes the Bureau of Justice Statistics, the National Institute of Justice, the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, the Office for Victims of Crime, and the Office of Sex Offender Sentencing, Monitoring, Apprehending, Registering, and Tracking. Points of view or opinions in this document are those of author and do not necessarily represent the official position or policies of the US Department of Justice.
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