Are Electric Rental Scooters Finally Coming To Grand Rapids?
Most people have heard of the electric scooters that companies like Bird, Lime, and more recently, Jump, have rolled out in larger cities. These scooters are accessed through an app, and after registering, you can use them for travel. They run off a battery that gets recharged at night by people who travel to pick them up. Cities like Detroit, Ann Arbor and Lansing have allowed them in their cities over the past few years, but when will they be coming to Grand Rapids?
These electric scooters are great for short distance travel and getting around town. Another popular reason that people like using these is a reduction in emmissions by using the scooters instead of cars. This is good for the environment, and the scooters help with parking as well. In the space taken by parking a single car, you could fit 10 scooters. With rising parking costs and fewer spaces available, this could provide for more effiency downtown. This is a major upside to the scooters that the city council and citizens alike should truly appreciate.
What’s The Hold Up?
Some cities have experienced and few issues and complaints with these scooters. These include interference with pedestrians, vandalism, and scooters piling up in places that are not ideal. The city of Grand Rapids expresses concern over these and wishes to find better solutions before permitting the scooters. One of the solutions is to keep the scooters in bike lanes. Over recent years, Grand Rapids has put a lot of money into expanding bike lanes so this is a viable option. Bird’s website even says to only use them in bike lanes unless city law allows sidewalk use.
Another aspect that makes Grand Rapids good for these electric scooters is bike racks. The companies encourage that the machines are left at the closest bike rack after use, making it easy for the next user. Grand Rapids has a large number of bike racks across the city. This makes it easy for riders and less likely that they will abandon the scooters in random places. The city is in talks with companies Bird and Lime, but no official announcement has been made yet.
How Do They Work?
These scooters are programmed with a GPS interface that allows users to find them nearby. Once you locate one, you link it with your phone to unlock the scooter. Most of these companies charge somewhere around $1 to begin using and around $0.15 per minute of use. When you are finished with the scooter, simply dock it at the nearest bike rack, then disconnect from your phone. Voila, the scooter is there for the next person and you are on to your next adventure. Most of these scooters operate between 7am and 8pm, allowing time for them to be picked up for recharging.
People can sign up to get paid for charging and maintaining these scooters as well. Once approved, you simply follow the GPS map to the scooter locations and pick them up. When you get home, charge them overnight and get them ready for the next day. Typically, the company will give you a set time that they must be put back out in certain areas. Depending on the placement of the scooters, you will usually make $5-$15 per scooter. This can be quite profitable if you have a van or truck than can collect quite a few scooters per trip.
To minimize liability and promote safe riding of these scooters, there are several rules and restrictions. For starters, you must be 18 or older to use them. Second, you must have a valid drivers license in order to operate them. In addition to these, you are required to follow all local laws and regulations. This includes helmet laws, speeds and where you can ride them, such as on roads or sidewalks. Also be aware of reckless behavior. These companies track complaints and issues in relation to scooters and riders. If you are irresponsible with the scooters, then you can possibly get a suspension or ban from using the service.
So Back To Grand Rapids
So back to the real question, when will we see them in Grand Rapids. Honestly, the city council seem to be dragging their feet with making a decision. Maybe they will follow suit with other cities, like Raleigh, NC. and charge the company per machine that is brought into the city. The company passes this cost down to the consumer, by charging more. Maybe they are waiting for some of this endless construction that Grand Rapids has finish, as it may cause problems with the scooter mobility. Hopefully we will begin seeing some of these by the end of summer. Until then, check back for updates and the latest news on rental sccoters coming to Grand Rapids.