Getting Around Campus Can Be Fast and Fun

As our campus continues to expand its boundaries, it can be difficult for students to navigate their way around. The University of Alabama covers approximately 3 square miles. Merely walking may suffice for some, but for others, there is a need for something to get them from point A to point B faster and more efficiently just to make class on time.

Too independent for our busses? Let’s look at three modes of transportation: the traditional bike, electric scooter, and electric skateboard. Each of these has pros and cons.

Bikes can be extremely convenient for students especially with bike lanes in the street and bike racks near many of the buildings on campus. Here’s one student, Abigail, who uses a bike daily. She says that the bike saves “about 10 minutes getting from class to class” . She also adds that she is “in a time crunch all the time because [she] scheduled all [her] classes very closely so having [her] bike helps a lot”. Abigail says that she would recommend the bike to any student who has classes that are far apart because it is so efficient. For Abigail the only inconvenience or con to the bike is having to take the time to put it on the bike rack. But she concedes that this time is negligible compared to the time that she saves. Abigail claims in fact that, class or no class, she never walks, it’s the bike 100 percent of the time.

Students can rent bikes from the rec center for $15 a month. There are also Gotcha e-bikes that are available for students to use through their ACT card. It is $2 to unlock the bike and 10 cents for every minute. So the bike seems like an inexpensive option for students who want to get around campus much quicker and more efficiently.

Or you could navigate campus on an electric scooter.

While there are many brands of electric scooters, their functionality and pros and cons are very similar. Ramsey, an owner of an electric scooter, says that he can save “10 to 15 minutes easily depending on where [he’s] going”. Ramsey has classes that are back to back but are very far apart. He utilizes his scooter to get to these classes and has time to spare, when otherwise he would likely be late. He also claims that the mobility of the scooter is extremely convenient saying that, “it’s not like a bike where you have to leave it outside, you can literally roll it into your classroom and leave it against the wall”.

UA student on electric scooter

Electric scooters provide easy mobility, great for a college campus

This easy mobility is one thing that really sets the scooter apart from things like a bike. Additionally, the scooter is really easy to ride, is fast, and can go a long way on a single charge, upwards of 15 miles. One con that Ramsey says the scooter has is the inability to ride it in the rain. The scooter does not like the water. With the amount that it rains in Alabama, this could be something to look out for in deciding on what mode of transportation works best. Ramsey says he uses the scooter all the time whenever it is not raining. The scooter can be used in the street and in bike lanes. So riders do not often encounter the need to move out of the way and weave through the traffic of pedestrians. Overall Ramsey says that he “would recommend an electric scooter to anybody that’s looking for one or anything to get around on”.

A less common mode of transportation on campus is the electric skateboard.

There are also many brands of electric skateboards on the market, but again pros and cons and functionality remain relatively similar. Chris, who owns an electric skateboard and uses it on campus, says that he “first used the skateboard recreationally when [he] first got it, but now uses it for getting around to class and shortening his time from walking”. One frequent walk was a 35 minute trek. With the use of his electric skateboard he can now get there in a mere 5 to 7 minutes. Chris also has classes that are back to back, only allowing for a 10 minute commute. Without the skateboard, he would arrive at his next class as the class begins, with the board he gets there in 2 minutes.

UA Student riding skateboard

Electric skateboards, while less popular, can be a “dream to ride” as noted by Chris

Chris says that it would be difficult to recommend the skateboard to others because it can be a little hard to handle and “it will definitely take some practice, make sure to start on the slow mode”. Some pros are that “it’s not that heavy for how fast [he] can get around, and it really shortens time”. Some cons involve “having to lug it into class and storing it under desks and on the wall, and you can’t ride it in the rain”. It can be an inconvenience and there’s a need for extra care to be safe (for everybody) riding the skateboard on the sidewalks with pedestrians. Overall Chris says that “it’s a dream to ride, it’s very short and portable, it’s such a great tool as a student to have to get around and it definitely helps a lot with time management. I definitely feel like I’ve gotten my money’s worth out of it”