If you’re awake and not skipping class, chances are you’ve seen a new form of transportation across campus.
Whether it be PhunkeeDucks, IO Hawks, Oxboards, AirBoards, Monorovers or hundreds of others, the self-balancing electric scooter has officially taken over as the latest trend in transportation technology.
Countless celebrities rocked them on Instagram and Twitter, and Jamie Foxx rode one onto the “Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon.”
Self-balancing electric scooters are especially popular among athletes, originating with Cleveland Cavaliers sharpshooter J.R. Smith.
During this year’s NBA Finals, Smith rolled into Quicken Loans Arena for Game 4 on a PhunkeeDuck and caught the entire Internet’s attention. After losing the Finals in six games, Smith rolled out of Quicken Loans Arena and off into the sunset for the summer offseason on his scooter.
What Smith didn’t know would start a huge sports trend.
At LSU, student-athletes are spotted riding these boards around the Quad, near the Cox Communications Academic Center for Student-Athletes and other campus spots.
Many non-athletes have them too, albeit not actual PhunkeeDucks, as most students can’t afford the hefty $1,500 price tag.
These scooters can range anywhere from $300 to $1,800, depending on which brand you buy and where you buy it from.
But, no matter the price tag, students are willing to spend.
Biology freshman Deon Denson said purchasing one is worth it.
“I ride it almost every day. It’s really fun,” Denson said.
Denson said he saw people riding them around campus and on YouTube and thought it looked enjoyable, so he decided to buy one for $300.
It may look like fun, Denson said, but it takes plenty of practice to become savvy with a self-balancing electric scooter.
Denson is now a whiz with his scooter, able to speedily spin around in circles and roam over campus with ease. Onlookers stop and stare as they watch his impressive moves.
“You just manipulate your feet, putting more force on one foot to turn in different directions,” Denson said. “When you open up the manual, it teaches you to lean your body forward to go forward and backward to go backward.”
Though he does use it for transportation, Denson said he mostly uses his self-balancing scooter for entertainment.
“I do get it from class to class using it, but I mostly just ride around campus trying to see how I can get better at it,” Denson said. “I can try and stand on one foot using it now.”
Self-balancing scooters are not all fun and games on the terrain of LSU’s campus. There are many bumps, cracks, dips and humps to watch out for.
Denson said when he first began riding his, he got hurt several times falling off the scooter because of the bumps around campus. He said he has since gotten used to the bumps and doesn’t plan on getting rid of his scooter anytime soon.
“I’m actually thinking of buying a different one that has bluetooth speakers on it,” Denson said.
Kinesiology junior and gymnast Shonacee Oliva uses hers more for transportation than anything else. Oliva said she saw the scooter as a new, practical way to travel.
A couple of her friends were riding them around campus, and she said she gave one a try.
“I researched it myself, found it online for $300 and, honestly, it’s something I think is worth spending my money on,” Oliva said.
Oliva must travel across campus frequently, and she said the scooter is a more efficient way to get around and not be late to class or meetings.
Though Oliva said she’s never fallen off her scooter, she had to jump off many times. Sometimes the board will catch on a big crack in the concrete that the wheels won’t hop up over it.
After the wheels get stuck, Oliva has to jump off as her board continues attempting to roll.
“The first day I took it on campus, I was really scared,” Oliva said. “You can tell how uneven the sidewalks are with all the cracks, but if you’re hesitant, it’s worse and you’ll have to jump off because it spazzes out.”
That “spazzing out” happens to many owners when they hit bumps and cracks. The scooter begins seizing and then stops working.
Oliva said once you get the feel of how to go over rough terrain, it’s not a problem. She said she practiced at home, but there is no rough terrain there, so it’s best to practice on campus.
It took less than a week for Oliva to learn how to use the scooter on campus, and she said she recommends it for anyone thinking of purchasing their own.
Oliva said $300 may be a steep price, but it’s more efficient than walking, and she enjoys the ride.
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