Occupying 120 acres of land in Northeast Los Angeles (NELA), Occidental is deceptively challenging to get around with its infamous hill that divides lower and upper campus. While most students conquer the elevation changes and cross-campus trek on foot, many opt for the convenience of other devices for transportation, despite the fact that, according to the student handbook, Occidental prohibits the use of electric scooters, skateboards, longboards, hoverboards and other similar non-vehicular transportation methods from walkways throughout campus.
Hunter Leong (sophomore) brought his Onewheel with him from his hometown of Sacramento to Occidental. A Onewheel is a self-balancing, single-wheel electric board that can reach a maximum speed of 19 miles per hour. Launched in 2015 after a successful Kickstarter campaign, Onewheel was founded by Kyle Doerksen who said he was dedicated to inventing the perfect electric vehicle.
Leong received his Onewheel as a birthday present inspired by his love for boarding as a kid.
“I used to do wakeboarding and had a longboard in fifth grade,” Leong said. “I thought the Onewheel can do much more than an electric scooter or skateboard, plus it is a good investment because of its durability.”
Leong said the rechargeable Onewheel allows him to be more environmentally friendly.
“Besides saving gas money, it reduces emissions,” Leong said.
While living on top of the hill in Norris Hall, Leong said he also uses his Onewheel to access lower-campus amenities such as the Amazon lockers.
“It is not only fun to ride but it is very efficient,” Leong said.
AJ Wint (sophomore) drove around the Brooklyn borough of New York City throughout high school but decided that having a car on campus was too difficult so he purchased a RadRunner 1 electric bike. Unlike typical electric bikes, the RadRunner 1 has plenty of storage space and an adjustable seat.
“It makes it a lot easier to schedule your day and make sure you are not late to class,” Wint said.
Wint said he ordered his electric bike prior to coming on campus.
“I shipped it to campus and Facilities helped me carry it to my dorm,” Wint said. “From there, I just followed the manual to set it up.”
To accommodate those who do not have reliable transportation on campus, the college offers services such as Bike Share, which rents bikes for personal use one week at a time. But many new students still chose to invest in alternative transportation methods to get around more quickly despite never living at the college before.
Alexis Chang (first year) from Connecticut said she bought her electric scooter from a friend who recently moved to LA.
“She was too afraid to use it,” Chang said. “I am reckless, so I got it for half price.”
Chang said riding her scooter saves her time, and more importantly, catches the attention of other students.
“I love to ride by and say ‘hi’ to several people at once,” she said.
The campus transportation scene at Occidental is a microcosm of LA, which has an abundance of electric scooters and bikes for rent. Most notably, electric scooter companies Bird and Lime quickly gained popularity after their debuts in 2017. People can rent these scooters on their mobile device and use them to enjoyably commute. Prominent ride-sharing companies such as Lyft have also taken part in this trend by giving users the ability to rent an electric scooter or bike through their App, according to the Lyft website.
Kel Kline (sophomore) said he prefers to navigate campus without the assistance of an electric vehicle.
Kline brought his longboard from his hometown of Philadelphia when he moved on campus in June for the Summer Research Program.
“I knew the campus had some hills and I figured longboarding was part of the LA lifestyle,” Kline said.
In fact, LA is considered by some to be the birthplace of skateboarding since the formation of Dogtown, a historical nickname for Santa Monica, in the 1970s. With its urban playgrounds and extensive boardwalks, the city remains a skateboarder’s paradise.
Kline said having a longboard not only helps him get around campus but is also fun for him to ride. Since September is often one of the hottest months in LA, cruising outdoors can provide a refreshing experience.
“If I am going pretty fast it feels nice to have the wind blowing on me, especially when it is hot outside,” Kline said. “I also look pretty cool doing it.”
This article was updated at 12:55 p.m. Sept. 20 to clarify Occidental’s official policy for non-vehicular transportation devices.