Illustration: Robert Neubecker
The 2024 policy is a stricter version of the University’s earlier effort to curb electric scooter usage

Anika Asthana ’25
Photo: Angel Kuo ’24

A year ago, electric scooters were a staple of campus life. Princeton students could be seen whizzing down walkways between classes or on their way to extracurricular activities. Today, electric scooters have become rare, as the University has banned and subsequently confiscated the once-prominent vehicles.

To substantially reduce the use of personal electric vehicles (PEVs) such as scooters and e-bikes, Princeton’s Department of Environmental Health and Safety (EHS) announced in December that PEVs could no longer be “used, stored, parked, or charged” within a zone that covers the majority of campus, including academic buildings, the residential colleges, Princeton and Roberts stadiums, and the boathouse. The policy went into effect on Jan. 25.

The 2024 policy is a stricter version of the University’s earlier effort to curb electric scooter usage. Previous regulations, implemented in August 2023, banned PEVs on weekdays between 7:30 a.m. and 4 p.m. The original policy, intended to address safety issues, was met with mixed reactions from the student body and ultimately did not have a substantial impact on reducing PEV usage.

In an email to the campus community, EHS wrote, “Despite efforts to educate the campus community about the updated policy and alternatives for getting around campus safely, compliance with the new PEV restrictions has been low.” A third-party consultant assisting the University with mobility planning “found nearly the same levels of e-scooter use during restricted hours in October 2023 as those seen in February 2023.”

The lack of impact from the initial policy might have stemmed from the lack of enforcement. As Madeline Cramer ’26 told PAW, “Nobody I know has ever gotten a ticket for riding a scooter.”

When the 2024 ban was announced, students still had their doubts about whether the University would actually enforce it, said Masha Khartchenko ’24. Scooter owners were told to remove their vehicles from campus, and Princeton offered a free shipping service to send them home. In late January, just before the start of spring semester classes, the University began impounding unattended scooters. Just over 100 PEVs had been impounded as of early March, according to the Department of Public Safety.

Some students have turned to electric bikes to manage their busy schedules and the expanding campus footprint. With the University’s current policy, e-bikes in “electric-assist” mode are permitted on campus roadways. Electric bikes are only allowed on pedestrian pathways and sidewalks if they are used in “traditional” mode and must yield to pedestrians at all times.

Despite these stipulations, increased e-bike usage might become the University’s next focal point. “I understand the reasoning behind the policy, but walking honestly feels more dangerous than before now that lots of people have replaced scooters with electric bikes that are bigger and faster,” said Sterling Hall ’25.

For now, the University’s enforcement efforts are focused on keeping scooter usage under control. Students reported seeing Princeton staff cutting locks off scooters and piling the unauthorized vehicles into a pickup truck. Owners can claim their devices for return by completing an online form.

In addition to confiscation, the University has been encouraging other methods of transportation. Princeton’s Bike Library loans out a fleet of 100 Breezer bikes, which are “professionally refurbished and ready to ride.” The bikes are marketed as cheap, effective alternatives to PEVs, and cost $25 to rent for one semester, or $40 for the year. By mid-February, the rental requests closed as all available bikes had been claimed for the spring semester.

By one admittedly anecdotal measure, Khartchenko said, the University’s strict enforcement of the ban has been effective. “The number of times that I got hit by a scooter last year was one, and this year it was zero,” she said. “I would say that is a positive trend.”