UC Santa Barbara administrators and the Isla Vista Community Services District are grappling with how to police the Bird and Lime scooters that have recently made their way to Isla Vista.
UCSB’s temporary policy, which was released on Sept. 7, prohibits electronic transportation products such as Bird and Lime from being used on campus bike paths or walkways.
The policy also gives the UCSB Police Department (UCPD) the power to impound any scooters found on campus.
UCPD has taken a “hands off” approach to the regulation of scooters on campus so far, despite requests for them to “heavily impound” the scooters, according to Matt Bowman, UCPD Acting Lieutenant, who spoke at Tuesday’s I.V. Community Services District (I.V. CSD) meeting.
The scooters are currently categorized under the title of motor vehicles, according to Bowman, who says a citation for riding a Bird on campus could cost $250.
Bowman says that officers are doing “limited enforcement” of scooters and responding on a complaint basis.
Despite this, students have ridden the scooters on campus with little to no consequences.
To better regulate these policies, UCSB formed a committee which includes several university organizations such as Associated Students, UCPD and Transportation and Parking Services among others, according to Jennifer Lofthus, UCSB’s policy coordinator and deputy ADA compliance officer.
The Committee is considering geofencing as one form of regulation, which would shut off scooters once they pass a certain geographical location, said Associate Dean of Students Don Lubach at the Graduate Student Association meeting Tuesday evening.
In UCSB’s case, this could be Pardall Tunnel, Lubach said.
At the I.V. CSD meeting on Oct. 9, Bird City Launcher Benjamin Jacobs discussed Bird’s plans to institute a “no-ride zone” for campus on the Bird app.
“People will… get a notification that they’re entering a no-ride zone which we can tag based on [the university’s] requirements,” Jacobs said.
The company currently does not have plans to throttle the scooters entering campus.
Bird also plans to hire members of the I.V. community as “bird sweepers or watchers” who would manage the removal of Bird scooters on campus as well as educating users on how to safely operate the product, Jacobs said.
I.V. CSD board members also expressed concern about the safety of Bird scooters in I.V., highlighting the potential for accidents and hazardous misuse of the scooters.
As an example of the I.V. CSD’s worries about the scooters, I.V. CSD Director Jay Freeman pointed out that a Bird scooter had washed up onto the beach over the weekend.
In response, Jacobs said the initial sign-up process on Bird’s app requires users to watch a video that explains the rules of scooter use, which includes riding only on streets, wearing a helmet and limiting the number of persons per scooter to one.
Jacobs also added that safety is a “priority” for the Bird company.
The company is also considering taking the scooters off streets in I.V. during periods when high alcohol consumption among residents is likely, he said. This effort would be in hopes of reducing the amount of people operating Bird scooters while intoxicated.
The I.V. CSD said Santa Barbara County plans to set regulations regarding the use of scooters in unincorporated territory, such as I.V., in November.
Updated [Jan. 9, 2019]