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Penn’s Division of Public Safety has labeled scooters a “fire hazard” and banned them from all campus housing or University buildings. Credit: Mollie Benn

The Division of Public Safety launched an intensified safety campaign this semester as part of their ongoing "Share-the-Road" plan to more strictly enforce Penn’s existing regulations on personal mobility items such as scooters, bikes, and skateboards.  

DPS announced their decision to double down on these safety measures last year, although the policies were initially created in 2014. The regulations most notably include restrictions on usage of devices on campus walkways from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. on Mondays through Fridays, and devices are banned from all campus housing or University buildings due to their classification as a fire hazard. 

Specific walkways such as Locust Walk, Hamilton Walk, Women’s Walk, Smith Walk, and the Paley and Weave footbridges have been explicitly listed by the DPS as no-ride zones, but all University sidewalk and walkways are more generally classified as dismount-and-walk zones.

DPS kicked off the semester with an education campaign on Sept. 19 and 20, stopping bikers, skaters, and scooter riders on Locust Walk and reminding them about the safety policies. According to Vice President for Public Safety Kathleen Shields Anderson, this effort resulted in over 1,000 interactions between DPS and riders. 

“It was an opportunity to engage people and remind them that safety is our primary concern," Shields Anderson said. “That includes not only bike helmets and locking [devices] properly, but also about the space in which you’re riding.”

DPS also collaborated with Wellness at Penn last semester, trying to extend their message to more students through educational videos about safe scooter practices. 

Shields Anderson told the DP that student response to the campaign was generally positive.

“Our team received positive feedback while engaging with the community on safe walking, riding, and driving practices,” she said.

Penn community members expressed different opinions about the risks associated with high-speed mobility devices on campus. 

Penn Mathematics PhD candidate Noah Breager told the DP that, in his opinion, there is “no difference at all” between old-school transportation and newer, faster, less-controllable ones like electric scooters. 

Penn Professor of Mathematics Julia Hartmann agreed, adding that scooters are safe unless they surpass a regular walking or jogging speed. 

DPS officers will continue to be stationed throughout the year across campus, at locations such as 40th and Locust, 36th and Locust, and down at 34th and Walnut to monitor personal mobility item use.