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Scooting around the 'ville

Hauling a heavy backpack across Grounds can be difficult, especially when attempting to walk from class to class in 10 minutes. Some students have adopted bicycles as their modes of transportation. Others have splurged on Vespa motor scooters.

But a new trend has rolled onto Grounds, one that takes a hint from the collective childhood memories of ‘90s kids: Razor scooters. More and more students whiz by on the nimble metal contraptions, traveling in a way that offers an entertaining diversion from the daily grind of classes.

“It cuts travel time into about a third,” second-year College student Hannah Chauvin said.

First-year College student Stephen Rooker has also opted to scoot. “I take my scooter to class, to the gym or to study in the library,” Rooker said. “It’s a convenient way to get around so I don’t have to lock up a bike.”

He said most of his scooting friends are second or third years, but he encouraged other first-year students to give the Razor a spin.

Chauvin wanted to spread her passion for scooting, so she created a Twitter account called ScootCville. ScootCville tweets photos of Razors in various locations and interacts with other students scooting around Grounds. “It’s a way to promote scooting and get the word out,” Chauvin said.

The account has even earned a virtual high-five from Dean of Students Allen Groves.

Chauvin hopes to form a contracted independent organization for scooter enthusiasts. CIO status would give the group an official meeting place and time and a stronger base from which to recruit scooters, creating what Chauvin called “an organized revolution of scooting.” The group hopes to eventually plan a scooter race, ideally of half-marathon length.

In addition to making traversing Grounds easier, Razors can be used for leisure-scooting. Chauvin recommended taking the elevator to the top of the Culbreth Parking Garage and scooting all the way down. She and second-year College student Alan McLucas also frequent the rolling hills of 14th Street and the McIntire Skateboard Park, which is only a short drive away and has no entry fee. There, scooters must sign in with an attendant and wear a helmet when riding.

“It’s super fun and there are way more opportunities to do tricks and cool things and for showing off,” McLucas said.

Even for those who can’t do tricks, the playground offers plenty of opportunities for recreation. “There are ramps of all different angles for scooter noobs or more advanced scooters,” Chauvin said.

Skating in the park eliminates some of the challenges posed by navigating crowded sidewalks on Grounds. “Cobblestones are the worst,” McLucas said. “You either need to weave around [the walkers] and be sort of obnoxious or figure out a path where there aren’t any obstacles, which may be longer than walking but way more fun.”

Scooting around Grounds also gives students an outlet to express themselves. Many scooters decorate their Razors. Second-year College student Jake Herrman refashioned his younger brother’s old scooter by spray-painting it gold and adding a bike reflector to the front. He had bought the scooter for his brother as a Christmas gift several years ago, and his brother gave it back to him to take to college.

“It was all beat-up, so decorating it just made sense,” Herrman said. Herrman’s roommate personalized his own scooter with skateboard grip tape and replaced the traditional handlebars with bike handles.

Some students, however, have been riding Razors since before the birth of Scoot C-Ville. Third-year College student Huw Rees-Jones recalls seeing a group of fourth-year students flying by in a perfect V-formation back in 2008.

These students inspired him to incorporate his scooter as “an extension of myself,” Rees-Jones said in an email. “No longer would I get up in the morning and put my shoes on, but instead my leopard print razor with [a] green foam handle.”

Rees-Jones has worn through two Razors during his time at the University and has moved on to his third scooter. Even though he is not a member of Scoot C-Ville, Rees-Jones has still connected with other scooters.

As the group of scooting students grows, the Razor scooter trend is one bandwagon it may be worth hopping on. In addition to bringing back childhood memories and decreasing travel time, scooting “just makes life a little better,” McLucas said.

“[It’s] the closest I can get on a daily basis to flying,” Chauvin said.