It’s currently that time of the year when colleges and universities across the country welcome students back to campus for the start of a new school year. However, several prominent institutions have stated that while students are encouraged, their e-bikes are not.
According to Bicycling.com, a growing number of campuses are banning electric scooters and e-bikes, despite their increasing popularity among college students. Many students view these modes of transportation as accessible, practical, and environmentally friendly alternatives to owning a car.
Yale University recently announced that students are not permitted to store or use e-bikes or other “micro mobility devices” (MMDs) within the residential areas on campus.
In an email to students, Ronnell A. Higgins, Associate Vice President of Public Safety and Community Engagement at Yale, explained that although these devices are popular for getting around campus, their storage or charging in densely populated residential spaces poses significant fire and safety risks. Students were advised to leave their MMDs at home. For those who had already brought them to campus, arrangements would be made to secure the devices off-site until they could be taken home.
The primary reason why major US colleges are introducing e-bike bans is safety concerns. Administrators are particularly worried about fire hazards and potential collisions with pedestrians.
In anticipation of the upcoming school year, Fordham University banned e-bikes last January. Robert Fitzer, Fordham’s director of public safety, said that the January ban was designed to give the campus community enough time to make alternative arrangements for their e-scooters and e-bikes.
Fordham made its announcement in response to a series of devastating fires in New York City that allegedly resulted from faulty or non-original e-bike batteries.
Based on data from the Fire Department of New York (FDNY), e-bike batteries are being investigated as the potential cause of 114 fires so far this year. These fires caused 74 injuries and 13 fatalities. This alarming trend is a significant increase from six deaths in 2022 and four in 2021.
Boston College is showing more tolerance for e-mobility than other institutions. Nevertheless, it recently modified its policy to prohibit electric scooters. This change in policy was primarily motivated by concerns for pedestrian safety and fire hazards. It remains uncertain whether e-bikes will eventually be prohibited as well.
Although lithium batteries are generally considered reliable, the danger arises when they are mishandled or defective. The FDNY cautions against using second-hand e-bike batteries. FDNY also emphasizes the importance of ensuring that any aftermarket batteries and chargers have undergone testing at an authorized facility.
Image Source: Route1Reporter, https://shorturl.at/bEV19