In recognition of World Mental Health Awareness Day on October 10, Spin recently announced its findings from rider surveys conducted in the UK regarding the impact that riding e-scooters have on their happiness and wellbeing. Seventy percent of e-scooter users said riding helps improve their mental health. Riders de-stressed (74 percent) and relaxed (85 percent), with two-thirds (67 percent) agreeing that riding an e-scooter helps clear their mind of negative thoughts and feelings. Two-thirds (67 percent) feel more socially connected as it allows them to make personal relations and socialize with friends and family. We invited Jason Sell, Undergraduate Student at University of Central Florida, and Spin Student Safety Ambassador, to share his experience with e-scooters, campus life, and mental health.
Hi, my name is Jason Sell. I’m an undergraduate student studying Mechanical Engineering at University of Central Florida. I also serve as Spin’s Student Safety Ambassador on campus, the first position of its kind at Spin. My job includes field work such as deploying scooters in high demand areas, moving them to Hubs for parking and charging, and outreach to students. I provide tutorials and demonstrations for students to ride scooters more safely.
Over the past year, I’ve documented more than 1,500 interactions with students, to better understand why students ride e-scooters at UCF. In addition to transportation, mobility, and fun, one of the most common themes that I heard was how e-scooters have a positive effect on students’ mental health. The past 19 months of the COVID-19 pandemic have had challenging moments for everyone and have required us all to be adaptable; this is especially true for college students. According to the "Reopening Campus" article in the Chronicle of Higher Education, 88 percent of students reported missing a day of classes due to mental health.
Why is addressing mental health important for college students? Improving mental health allows students to make the most of their potential, better cope with difficult situations or emotions, and show up in a more focused manner in class, while studying, or spending time with friends and family.
These are the top three ways that I’ve seen and heard firsthand how e-scooters have helped students boost their mental health in the past year.
- Social Connections “I meet new people whenever I go for a Spin! My roommates and I go out and find other people riding— all you have to do is ring the bell!” —Tyler K, UCF Student
This fall semester has been very different than last year. I hear from students that they really appreciate having mobility options like e-scooters to help them more easily and more safely get together again with peers. Especially for first and second year students, who have not yet had a normal college experience, having access to scooters to learn the campus and meet other students is an incredibly valuable asset for them.
Just like riding a bike, riding an e-scooter is often a very social activity. For college students, I’ve seen it really help to create a sense of community and a positive psychological space. I have heard from a lot of students that they use e-scooters to ride together in a group for fun and to move more easily across campus to meet friends.
- Joy Ride Breaks “A quick ride helps me take a breath and clear my head” — Gian A, UCF Student
Students are under increasing pressure, whether it is social pressures or the stress of midterms, papers, and finals. Throw the pandemic on top of the day-to-day stressors of college life and it’s a lot to manage. At UCF, the administration and faculty have been incredibly flexible and understanding of the shock to the system that returning to fully in-person classes has had for students, and some faculty have suggested that students take one day per month off for mental health.
Outside of the classroom, scooters have offered students a simple and accessible relief from stress. Scooters are fun, relaxing, and an easy way to get around. The simple joy of riding a scooter becomes more meaningful when all aspects of social life have been disrupted; it has meant a lot to college students to have this option. Riding an electric scooter outdoors, in open air, can be helpful to clear the mind and recharge.
- Freedom To Move Sustainability “Electric vehicles are the future! Not only are Spin scooters sustainable, but they promote a culture of sustainability on campus that goes far beyond transportation.” — Emily D, UCF Student
My generation is passionate about building a more sustainable future. As mostly 18 to 22 years old, experiencing a pandemic and foreseeing how much climate change is going to shape our future, we realize that the choices we all make can have an impact. Riding an e-scooter is a more sustainable, personal action that my peers and I can take. It’s a more environmentally responsible transportation choice, compared to driving a car or taking a ride share.
Access to sustainable transportation is an issue that is very top of mind for our student government leadership, because mobility not only provides the feeling of freedom and independence, but also helps boost mental health for my fellow students. Many students, like myself, appreciate how easy it is to efficiently navigate the campus, while also moving around in an eco-friendly way.
Improving Health and Wellbeing
First and last mile transportation, sustainability, and convenience are commonly referenced benefits that micromobility provides campuses. As a college student who talks to fellow students riding scooters everyday, I also hear about the many ways that scooters help students with their mental health.
University administrations like UCF are taking a more holistic approach to health and wellness, making it a crucial part of the campus experience. Health and wellness is a spectrum, and if moving from point A to point B can also help the overall mindset for students, then that is an impactful and lasting experience.