Monday, March 30

Op-ed: Scooters on campus pose a threat to the safety of UCLA’s campus


Scooters are menaces on our campus that cause injuries to innocent people.

The injuries can even get as bad as a broken hip. In fact, that has already happened at UCLA.

On Sept. 24, at about 11:15 a.m., Juming Zhao, a consultant to universities in China, was walking on Charles E. Young Drive South, crossing the street to Tiverton Drive, and hit by an individual riding a scooter. Three students helped Zhao stand up, but the person responsible for the accident fled the scene.

Zhao phoned his wife, Su Chen, the head librarian of the UCLA East Asian Library. Chen took Zhao to the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center emergency department, and the attending doctor examined Zhao and ordered an X-ray. At that time, the doctor told Zhao he did not find any fractures on his hip and discharged him. During this visit, the emergency department nurse mentioned to Zhao and Chen that there have been several scooter injuries on campus.

Zhao’s diagnosis changed early the next morning when his primary care physician phoned to inform him that the radiologist had reviewed his X-ray and found his right hip had fractured. The physician requested Zhao to immediately return to the medical center for surgery.

Zhao was operated on the next day. He was bedridden for a week and walked with the assistance of a walker and cane for three months. Zhao had to cancel all of his consulting work for the remainder of 2018.

To this day, he still walks with pain. He can only hope the injury will heal and not adversely affect him for the rest of his life.

UCPD received the report of Zhao’s injury from the hospital emergency department on the same day of the accident. A campus police officer came to see Zhao at the hospital and interviewed him regarding the scooter accident. Several days later, another police officer came to Zhao’s home for a second interview, informing him that several scooter incidents had occurred on campus and that the department had not been able to trace and apprehend the people responsible for those accidents.

UCLA is a world-class institute of higher learning contributing to the teaching and growth of future generations of leaders. It troubles me that someone, most likely a student, collided with Zhao and got away without any sense of responsibility or concern for their victim. The fact that the UCPD has responded to other cases of scooter accidents, but were unable to apprehend the scooter riders causing the accidents, speaks to the issue of moral responsibility of not only the unconscionable riders, but also the bystanders who witnessed such accidents.

In light of the scooter accidents and injuries inflicted on the victims, I urge UCLA to ban scooters on campus until rules are put in place to ensure the safety and health of the community, especially the elderly and those with disabilites.

The encouragement of our Bruin community members to walk or bike on campus will not only contribute to everyone’s personal safety, but will provide a healthy alternative to the use of scooters.

Li is a research professor and professor emeritus in the Fielding School of Public Health’s department of community health sciences.


Comments are supposed to create a forum for thoughtful, respectful community discussion. Please be nice. View our full comments policy here.

  • DWayne

    While I think we can all sympathize with this person’s injuries, and rightfully long for justice in this scenario, I think this article is a bit misleading. First, this injury occurred 4 months ago, which was long before UCLA started implementing policies and guidelines for student use of these scooters. There are slowdown areas implemented by Bird, Lime, etc. that don’t allow you to use scooters on Bruinwalk, etc. If you go to any of the common dropoff/pickup points for scooters, you’ll see a sign reminding you to wear a helmet, drive on roads rather than sidewalks, and all the other safety precautions. UCLA has dramatically improved its approach to scooter safety, which is the right solution to this problem. Unlawful behavior shouldn’t result in a blanket ban; it should result in better integration of technology with the current situation, as UCLA has done. Plus, people drive recklessly in cars as well, which are more dangerous than scooters, and we don’t ban them because of the bad drivers. The wrong solution would be to ban something simply because there’s a possibility someone could use it wrongfully.