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Rolling safely: navigating the campus streets on wheels 

(Photo courtesy of UMass Lowell) “Bike racks on south campus”

Jack Collins
Connector Contributor

At UMass Lowell, students must find efficient transportation methods to reach class on time. Electric bikes and electric scooters have become popular, but safety concerns due to the busy streets of Lowell may need to be reviewed to ensure students’ safety on the road.    

The way that college students navigate to get to class has changed in recent years. The use of electric bikes and scooters is starting to gain popularity quickly and seems to have the ability to completely change how people get to college classes. However, students still have to share the road with other cars despite this growing popularity. This raises the question, should bike lanes be implemented on campus to increase student safety?   

Seeing electric bikes and scooters has become the new norm on campus. It has made transportation much easier for students who must travel far to get to class. Dillian Bentley, a sophomore and a strong advocate for electric scooters contributed his thoughts on the importance of his electric scooter, saying “My electric scooter has become my car since attending Lowell. Freshman year I had to travel from East Campus to South Campus every day for classes and since I had such a tight class structure, I was only able to use my scooter to get to class on time.”      

Furthermore, Bentley mentioned some of his experiences that he faces with his electric scooter. He says “Some days heading to class on South Campus I would nearly collide with cars that would run lights because the traffic was so bad. Some days were worse than others, but sharing the road with anxious drivers is always something I think about before heading to class every day.” Bentley would later go on to mention “I think implementing a permanent bike lane connecting our three campuses would be very beneficial for myself and others. I know that the streets are very narrow so I am not sure if it can be done, but it’s definitely worth a conversation.”    

Edvard Nordlund, a junior who has worked at the UMass Lowell Bike shop for the past two years, had similar experiences. When asked about the current safety concerns for students using bikes and scooters on campus Nordlund said “I have personally fallen off my bike near our South campus because of a pothole that I had not seen. There was a car behind me that I was worried about and I tried to get to the sidewalk so that it could pass by. I think that worrying about the street conditions as well as street traffic is a safety concern students using bikes and scooters have to worry about.”   

Nordlund later mentioned some horrific stories he had heard about from students who had come into the bike shop to seek work on their bikes. When asked if any measure could be implemented to improve safety for students using bikes and scooters Nordlund said “This is something we would talk about at the bike shop on a regular basis. I think that if our school implemented a bike lane specifically on Pawtucket Street from East Campus to South Campus this could protect our student body that uses bikes to get to class.”     

Regardless of whether actions will be taken to improve the safety of electric bike and scooter users, there is definitely a conversation to be had. With the growth of the student body using these ways of transportation in recent years there is a growing concern amongst students like Bentley and Nordlund. While the roads going to South Campus may already be too narrow to put in a separate lane for this transportation, other measures could be taken to protect UMass Lowell students. As of now, there are no safety measures that are currently in place for students using bikes and scooters on campus. This could change if the university could see that there are certain risks that students face when sharing the roads with cars on campus.  

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