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Spin Bikes Expand with New Scooter-Share Program on USU's Campus

Wednesday, May. 30, 2018

Spin scooter on USU campus

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By Carter Moore, Utah Statesman, Monday, May 28, 2018 

Utah State University became the first university in the world to implement electric scooter-share services with the San Francisco bike rental company Spin, after expanding their partnership on Friday. The new pilot program brought in 20 new electric motor-assisted scooters for use by students, faculty, staff and visitors.

Since its partnership with Utah State in March, Spin bikes has been used nearly 8,000 times, which Spin said was an optimistic sign that USU was open to new modes of transportation.

“Spin is thrilled USU will be the first scooter-share program on any campus in the world,” said Ted Sweeney, campus partnerships lead for Spin. “Given the excitement expressed, we knew it would be a great mutual learning process for both USU and Spin.”

The scooters will operate with the same phone application as Spin bikes, though the cost is slightly different. To unlock a scooter, users pay one dollar, then are charged 15 cents per minute spent riding. After pushing off with their foot a few times, the scooter will offer electric assistance from the motor, operated by a throttle paddle on the right handlebar.

“We’ve seen that people want a quick, easy way to get around,” Sweeney said. “We have been experimenting with electric scooter share recently and have been wanting to appeal to a broader audience.”

Given USU’s reaction to the bike-share, Sweeney said that it made sense to bring scooters next and that hopefully they can gather data and information through the pilot program.
“We’d love to see these become a permanent program at USU, and have been working closely with Aggie Blue Bikes to get it implemented.” Sweeney said.

While Aggie Blue Bikes will not have a hand in the charging, maintenance or operations of the scooter-share program, the original contracting and university connection came from Blue Bikes program coordinator Margaret McCarthy.

“We wanted to get the data, gauge the interest and see if there is a future of e-bikes and e-scooters,” McCarthy said. “If that is something that USU wants on our campus.”

The safety of electric scooters has been a controversial debate back in Spin’s hometown of San Francisco. In April, the city attorney Dennis Herrera sent cease and desist letters to three different scooter-share companies, Spin included, citing the scooters as a public health hazard.

“[Spin] is creating a public nuisance on the City’s streets and sidewalks and endangering public health and safety. Spin must immediately cease and desist from unlawful conduct, as we provide further below,” the letter stated.

Sweeney was not concerned that the same problems would appear in Logan.

“What we’re excited about with USU is that they have given us permission to do it,” he said. “We’re not launching our systems without permission, and we’re enforcing that they stay on campus to avoid problems with the city and city traffic.”

McCarthy was also optimistic about the future of scooter-share on campus.

“I think they will get more people out of their car and using active transportation,” she said. “Even though they’re assisted, it is better than driving in your car and making our air even worse.”

Beside the practical and environmental benefits, McCarthy believes the appeal and uniqueness of the scooters will be their biggest attractor.

“I think they are going to be fun,” she said. “If you are running late, it will be a convenient way to get to class or around campus.”

Spin will host a question and answer session with free rides Wednesday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. in front of the Aggie Blue Bikes shop.

]“We’re excited to be adding scooters,” Sweeney said. “We think they’re going to be really popular, and we’re excited to learn from this to further improve our program. We just want to help people get around.”

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