Three months later, December restriction still sparks mixed response

After a rise in the use of electric scooters on campus, the Executive Office of the Vice President announced in December 2023 that a ban on the “operation, storage, and charging of Personal Electric Vehicles” would take effect on the university’s main campus at the end of the fall semester. 

The announcement, following a report by the Personal Electric Vehicles (PEV) Working Group, emphasized growing safety concerns on campus and the desire for a “pedestrian character” at Notre Dame. According to the campus-wide email, “The proliferation of mechanized vehicles on campus is inconsistent with the pedestrian character of campus we have tried to preserve.”

The Rover polled over 180 students, of whom nearly two-thirds supported the ban. The survey obtained information on the students’ opinions regarding the ban and its effectiveness in improving the safety of campus. 

Student reactions to the announcement were largely dependent on whether the student owned a PEV. Among respondents, 60 percent agreed with the decision, 22 percent were against it, and 18 percent remained neutral.

A freshman who formerly owned a scooter commented on the ban, “At first I was against it because I have classes that are pretty far and it was inconvenient. Once the winter hit, however, I realized that people would have been using them in unsafe conditions because of the weather. I miss my scooter for the convenience, but I think overall safety has been improved.” 

The PEV Working Group noted that collisions were often underreported to the NDPD. The results from the survey suggested this as well: 14 percent of students reported that they had been hit by a scooterist. A freshman in Pasquerilla West remarked on the improvements since the ban: “You don’t have to be afraid now that a scooter’s coming up behind you. The walks have been more peaceful.”

Apart from improved safety conditions, students have noticed a shift in the social atmosphere on campus. Martina Lund, a freshman in Cavanaugh, noted: “Previously, there really was a divide between those who had scooters and those who didn’t. Now that there aren’t scooters anymore, the campus life and culture has strengthened.” 

Lund continued, “People aren’t zipping by in a hurry, but are walking to class with other people, talking with them. It creates a sense of community. Instead of focusing only on their own schedules and destinations, they can focus on being with others and connecting with them. Even the athletes are part of our student life, and they’re not just doing their own thing.”

A majority of athletes owned a scooter before the ban to facilitate commutes between classes and practices. Of the athlete respondents in the survey, 92 percent owned a scooter and half of those who did not own one reported that they often used one. Many supporters of the ban felt that the scooters were deepening a divide between the athletes and the rest of the student population. 

Some scooter owners have found it hard to see the importance of prioritizing the campus’s pedestrian culture. One football player commented, “The decision seemed to come out of nowhere. Lots of students use scooters, not just athletes.” Nearly 25 percent of polled students reported that they found it hard to see why the ban was a university priority. 

The largest concern among athletes has been the pressures of tight schedules exacerbated by the absence of scooters. The aforementioned football player told the Rover, “The ban is causing more complications. After a hard workout, I have to walk to class instead of riding my scooter. It’s become both a time and workout issue.” 

A member of the women’s rowing team added, “I see the value of the ban, but also it’s a hard adjustment and I don’t fully agree with it. I think athletes would benefit from an exception because the scooter saved me lots of time getting around campus.” She continued, “With my scooter, I could zip to the dining hall and get to class. I need fuel and a lot of consistent food intake. Now I’m lucky to have a lunch break with the way my classes fall.” 

Cam Nash, a senior Resident Assistant in Alumni Hall and former scooter-owner, remarked, “I do have sympathy for students who play sports, are in ROTC, or live off campus and now have much more time of their day spent in transit.”

Some have suggested compromises to the complete ban, such as giving exceptions to athletes or creating hours during early and late practice times where scooters are allowed. Others flatly rejected this. A sophomore in Pasquerilla West responded: “If the rest of campus is getting rid of them, then athletes should, too. They don’t get special privileges.” 

Some respondents viewed the continued use of the Grubhub robots on campus as inconsistent with the university’s pro-pedestrian policies. Nash commented, “If the purpose is to create a ‘pedestrian environment’ on campus, then the robots are a clear violation.”

Others were hesitant to hold Grubhub robots to the same standard as scooters. Lund remarked, “I don’t think the robots affect student life as much as the scooters did. I think the robots prioritize time [and] efficiency over connection, which is certainly one drawback to them.” 

Other students pointed out that the food vehicles don’t present the same safety hazards as the scooters. A rower added, “I don’t think it’s inconsistent because the Grubhub robots don’t move as quickly and aren’t personally operated vehicles.” 

The total ban of all PEVs follows an August 2022 restriction on electric vehicles, which limited the spaces permitted for indoor storage and charging use. The combustion of an electric skateboard and rising numbers of clinical visits from collisions led the PEV Working Group to release a report and recommendation for a ban to President Jenkins, who soon after gave permission for the December announcement. 

Lucy Spence is a freshman from the Swamp studying piano performance. She intends to pursue a double major, but when asked what that might be merely assumes a vaguely bemused look on her face. Currently, her personal hero is Wodehouse’s Bertie Wooster, whom she tries to emulate in all aspects of life. Butlers being rather scarce and pocket funds low, she uses subtle tactics to convince her friends into her services. To suggest more constructive paragons, contact her at

Photo Credit: The Irish Rover

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