November 2, 2023 | NEWS | By Michael Braithwaite

The sidewalks of Colorado College are no stranger to unique vehicles. Between the commonplace skateboards and bicycles, the occasional unicycles and Razor scooters, and even the rare RipStik, campus sidewalks routinely feature a vast array of transportation vessels.

There has been a new type of vehicle cruising down these sidewalks recently, one that looks far different from the rest.

Featuring a narrow body with a white exterior, these electric-powered carts are the newest addition to Campus Safety’s fleet.

The office purchased two of these car-like vehicles – both fully-enclosed, and one featuring a rear truck bed – in June. They cost a combined $27,700, according to Director of Campus Safety Cathy Buckley.

With one of its cars retiring in the Spring, Campus Safety looked for alternative vehicles to replace it with, and elected to go with a new method for facilitating on-campus response.

The carts are fully enclosed and are equipped with full head- and taillights. The passenger model is compact, about half the length and width of a normal car. It can seat up to four individuals, though tightly. The truck model is slightly larger and features a rear tailgate in addition to the passenger cab.

“With the cost of both new and used [gasoline-powered] vehicles, we elected to look at other avenues for providing on campus response,” wrote Buckley in an email Tuesday morning. “The carts were actually a suggestion from a facilities employee to our parking supervisor. In doing a cost-benefit analysis and looking at our use of carbon fuels, they presented an opportunity to move in a different direction.”

The carts be charged by a standard 110-volt power outlet, drastically reducing the office’s expenditures on their existing vehicles, wrote Buckley. Additionally, they allow for more efficient transportation across campus and can carry equipment, giving them an advantage over both cars and bicycles.

This is not the first case of a campus services office utilizing motorized sidewalk transportation. Facilities services and grounds crew routinely traverse campus in pickup truck-style carts, and campus activities staff occasionally utilize golf carts for large events.

While the small carts are efficient in on campus response, there are no current plans to replace all of the office’s full-size, gasoline-powered cars with them, wrote Buckley. Campus Safety’s off-campus response and Safe Ride service both necessitate the use of full-size cars that can transport passengers. The carts will not be used for transportation, but instead for on-campus response, patrol, events and parking.

Buckley acknowledged that these new electric vehicles are just one step in Campus Safety improving the sustainability of their fleet. The carts are currently unmarked but will eventually have the Campus Safety logo on them.

And so, the next time a car-like vehicle hops onto the sidewalk next to Tutt Library, it may not be an inadvertent driver using the wide walkway as a U-turn. It may be a Campus Safety officer, making their own contribution to CC’s vast, unique, and increasingly sustainable concoction of on-campus transport.

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