Staff editorial: Bikes, scooters and cars, oh my!

The arrival of Limebike, a dockless bike and scooter ridesharing system, has resulted in dozens of bikes and scooters around the Danforth Campus, with many students taking short trips on the low-priced rentals.

These modes of transportation are a helpful and more affordable way for students to get around campus and the greater St. Louis community. For students without cars, these bikes and scooters make tasks such as buying groceries, getting to appointments and running other errands quicker than traveling on foot and more affordable than getting an Uber or Lyft. Similarly, they are a good choice for students who only need a bike once in a while, instead of renting or buying a bike.

Given the restricted number of student cars on campus due to the East End construction, Limebike provides a welcome way to ease some of the strain for students, especially first-years, to find convenient transportation. While Washington University does offer a way to rent cars through Enterprise CarShare, the limited number of available cars and docking locations makes these newly introduced bikes and scooters more appealing in comparison, especially for quick or spontaneous trips.

Further, in light of the heightened crime near campus at present and the Washington University Police Department’s advice that students avoid walking alone, these dockless bikes and scooters may help make students feel safer when traveling off campus. Realistically, students cannot always use the buddy system, especially those who live off campus and make trips to and from their homes multiple times a per day. Having a way to get home on your own schedule that cannot be stolen like a personal bike can help students travel solo faster while feeling safer along the way.

There are many benefits of having these options on campus. That said, please be courteous to others when riding or parking the rental bikes and scooters. Do not leave them in the middle of pathways and sidewalks that would disrupt pedestrians or traffic. Inappropriately-parked bikes and scooters have caused headaches and complaints in other cities with dockless ride shares, and in some cases, have resulted in a ban on the vehicles altogether. Conversely, do not sequester a bike or scooter away when parking it: A perk of the rental system is how easy it is for others to find a ride and start traveling with little hassle. Hiding a bike or scooter away only makes it harder for fellow riders and for the employees who have to wrangle the machines up for charging.

These bikes and scooters can keep us moving quickly, safely and affordably, but in order for everyone to enjoy them, it is vital that we use the vehicles with respect for the rest of the campus community.