Aldair Zepeda and Christine Uthoff News Channel 3
Friday, October 2, 2020
Program offers residents and visitors an electrified short distance travel.
GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — They're electric. They're for rent, at $1 plus 15 cents a mile. And they are available now in downtown Grand Rapids.
About 300 electric scooters are parked around downtown Grand Rapids as part of a pilot project designed to improve transportation using environmentally friendly options.
To kick off the program, the operating company, Spin, offered unlimited rides for up to 60 minutes during the first weekend, Friday, Oct. 2 to midnight Sunday, Oct. 4.
“As a solo, open-air form of transportation, scooters can offer residents a lower-risk mobility option for short distance travel,” said Justin Kimura, assistant director of Mobile GR, the city's transportation and parking department. “We are proud to partner with Spin on this new and eco-friendly transportation option for our residents, commuters and visitors.”
The Grand Rapids City Commission got behind the project earlier this month. After nearly a year of review, the commission approved spending $400,000 toward getting the scooters rolling.
The pilot program includes providing a variety of mobility options, for resident and visitor use, including electric assist bicycles, stand-on electric scooters and sit-down electric scooters.
Spin, the city's partner in the project, is owned by Ford Motor Co., and will maintain the system and operate the app that scooter users will use to access and pay for the scooter rentals. Eventually the project will serve a 12-square-mile area of downtown, including residential neighborhoods and business districts. That includes 74 percent of underserved neighborhoods.
Headquartered in San Francisco, California, Spin reported on its website that is operates on at least 18 university campuses across the United States, including the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, and in at least 42 cities, including Ann Arbor and Detroit. Several other cities in the state, including East Lansing, and Michigan State University have said they are eyeing similar scooter programs.
In Grand Rapids, project leaders said they will evaluate on shared mobility services can contribute to the city's multi-model transportation system.
Spin said that it will expand the fleet to about 1,500 as demand for the service grows.
Scooters are $1 to unlock, plus 15 cents per minute. Reduced rates are available for low-income residents. The program also as smart phone options, including an app available through the Spin Access program.
Grand Rapids transportation department staff installed dozens of marked designated parking zones for the scooters throughout the project area. That's where the e-scooters must be parked in between trips.
Kimura said the scooters operate at a maximum 10 miles per hour, and they are geofenced via GPS technology, which automatically slows the scooters, or powers them down when they cross a specific line or encounter a pedestrian-only zone such as on college campuses or Calder Plaza.
This article was originally published on wwmt.com.
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