University police will more strictly enforce traffic laws regarding electric scooters, bikes and skateboards starting this week.
UCPD Lt. Kevin Kilgore said the department will assign officers to different areas on and near campus where many students ride electric vehicles, including the dismount zone along Bruin Walk.
UCPD began to issue warnings and citations to Bird riders in February, including 43 warnings on Bruin Walk on Feb. 16. While the dismount zone policy has existed since 2009, the arrival of the Bird electric scooters in January has prompted increased enforcement, Kilgore said.
Kilgore said UCPD stopped riders in February to make them aware of the laws requiring all riders to have a valid driver’s license, wear a helmet and ride on the right side of the roadway, off of the sidewalk. He said while the stops were effective for a short period of time, not all riders are following these rules.
“Some people have been good about listening to those educational points and they’ve taken the measures to make sure they’re operating (electric scooters) correctly, but we’ve had a lot of people who are not,” he said.
LimeBike, which has a 24-hour bicycle service in addition to electric scooters, introduced its own scooters to campus last week. However, Kilgore said he did not anticipate any changes to UCPD patrols for riders using the new service.
Kilgore added that UCPD will be enforcing the laws more strictly and increasing citations in response to multiple student complaints, as well as several injuries to students who were struck by electric scooters, skateboards and bikes. He said one student got a concussion after being struck by a Bird scooter.
“We have other people who have had to go to the hospital as well,” he said.
UCPD said because of these incidents, officers will issue more citations, rather than warnings, for incorrect use of the vehicles.
Kenneth Baer, a spokesperson for Bird Rides, Inc., said in an emailed statement the company will continue working with the university to keep students and other riders safe.
“We will work with UCLA and others in Westwood to get the word about safe ridings, and that if you ride a Bird unlawfully – just like if you ride a car unlawfully – you can get cited by the police for it,” Baer said.
Some students said they think the ramped-up enforcement is unnecessary, while others felt the enforcement was justified.
Nahal Ghanoongooi, a first-year microbiology, immunology and molecular genetics student, said she thinks students use Birds to get to class on time and that UCPD has bigger concerns to worry about than citing riders.
“The intentions aren’t really bad, and as far as I’m concerned it’s not like a DUI concern, and it’s in the middle of the day,” she said.
Runda Tian, a third-year business economics student, said UCPD’s plan to increase regulation of the scooters was justified. Tian added he thinks the university needs more safety regulations and procedures, including designated locations where students can park the scooters.
“I feel like it is somewhat justified because … students might not be using these Birds (safely), and sometimes you can just park the Birds anywhere and sometimes this might disrupt the flow of traffic,” he said.
Dilhara Ranasinghe, a Ph.D. candidate in the department of atmospheric and oceanic sciences, said she thinks it is safer for riders to use the sidewalk, but they need to be mindful of their speed.
“It’s safer for the rider if they are allowed to go on the sidewalk, but … users need to be sensible because some people will go at higher speeds and I don’t really appreciate that,” she said. “Students should be allowed to ride scooters and use Bird, but I think there should be some enforcement on the speed limit.”