SDSU looking to implement electric scooters on campus

South Dakota State is looking into a unique proposal that could help students who have no means of transportation.
Published: Mar. 29, 2023 at 9:21 PM CDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

BROOKINGS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - Many college campuses across the country have been making electric scooters available to students through third party organizations. SDSU student government is hoping to be a part of that trend to accommodate for their growing need for transportation options.

Nearly ten percent of SDSU students reported that they didn’t have immediate access to a vehicle. Nick Grote, the soon-to-be Student Body President, thought it would be a good idea to bring in electric scooters to address that need. The 10 percent stat was part of a strategic plan transportation survey.

“I actually attended a student conference out in Tampa, Florida and we learned how to run a campus from a student government perspective,” said Grote. “We actually rode scooters from the hotel to the conference center and I thought, this was a great idea, why don’t we have this in Brookings?”

The idea of electric scooters on college campuses has been divisive in recent years. There are many in favor of electric scooters, but places like Boston College and Fordham University cited safety concerns to both pedestrians and students as reasons for banning them. So far, though, the response to the proposal has been mostly positive in Brookings.

Grote says that so far, the city and the university are in full support, but acknowledge that there are still some questions to be answered.

“I think it’s going to be an excellent source of transportation,” said SDSU student Alyson Swanson. “They talked a lot about how international students, they can’t bring their cars over here obviously, so it’s going to be a great form of transportation for them.”

Grand Canyon University has had electric scooters as early as 2019. GCU student, Jenna Warden, has seen the impact of scooters first hand and says that they could work in South Dakota.

“Every student that I’ve talked to that has a scooter, they really love having their scooter on campus with them,” said Warden. “We have a really big campus here at GCU, so it cuts a walking time of twenty minutes down to four or five minutes.”

Warden is from South Dakota and now owns her own scooter. She got her scooter because, on a tour, she saw many in use and saw it as an effective way to get from her dorm to her classes.

“I’ve seen it work really well here. I know a lot of people have safety concerns, but honestly, crashes here aren’t that common,” said Warden. “As long as you implement rules or safety standards, I really think that they are a great resource to have for students”

A busy road on GCU’s campus called “Lopes Way”, was subject to a rule change due to safety concerns. There was a crash last year due to how crowded it was and it was deemed unsafe for scooters and other wheeled transportation like longboards.

Other than that, Warden says that the majority of campus is open for driving scooters around and there are few issues with them.

Many companies are finding ways to make their scooters safer, like using reactionary tests before unlocking scooters to prevent driving under the influence.

“Safety is really one of the biggest concerns that we’ve been looking at. It’s a huge priority for not only SDSU, but the city as well. So we want to make sure that students know that they should be wearing a helmet when they’re doing this,” said Grote. “We want to make sure that there’s a separation of liability as well.”

Grote will be sworn in as student body president on Monday. His scooter idea was the main focus of his campaign and students seemed to buy in. Not only did he win the election, but student voter turnout was significantly higher than in the previous student election.

“Not only is this a functional use for students, but it’s also a recreational one,” said Grote. “As long as we’re doing it safely, it’s a great use of recreation and it can really set, not only SDSU, but Brookings apart from the rest of the state.”

As of now, SDSU is in an RFP, or request for proposal process where scooter companies will submit bids to have their scooters used. Once SDSU picks a company that fits their needs, they could see a soft launch as soon as this summer.