E-scooters have had issues with their ability to operate in “no ride” zones but have still maintained a high ridership since being deployed in Athens in February.
Spin electric scooters have been located around Ohio University campus since Feb. 18 and serve to aid student transportation throughout campus.
Data from Spin shows that the e-scooters have been used frequently since their arrival.
“Spin sent us kind of a snapshot of the ridership of (the scooters),” Athens Mayor Steve Patterson said. “And they had indicated to us that ridership on them is more than they .. anticipated in the early weeks. That was interesting to hear.”
The main areas of usage at OU are on Mill Street, Stewart Street and Palmer Street, Patterson said. In addition, students appear to use scooters to go to their cars.
“Another place I have personally noticed is where OU students lease parking spaces out on the fairgrounds,” Patterson said. “I’ve noticed on Fridays there are a number of scooters sitting down there too, which means they’re using that as a mode of transportation to get down to their cars when they go away for the weekend.”
In addition to the usage to get to cars, some students use the scooters as a way to transport to classes.
Andrew Johnson, a senior studying engineering technology and marketing, uses the scooters to get from his apartment to his classes.
“I live in River Park, and all of my classes are in Stocker,” Johnson said. “What’s a half hour walk is way faster on a $2 scooter ride.”
Despite the advantages to the scooters, Patterson believes that there are some problems with having them. Scooters are still being ridden in the “No Ride Zones”, and there is still a lack of proper parking, he said.
“There’s still a lot of scooters being ridden in areas where they are supposed to be geo-fenced,” Patterson said. “My concern is scooters just kind of left randomly all over the place.”
In addition, Patterson has received complaints from Athens residents concerned about safety.
“I’ve heard from several of our older citizens who are sharing a level of concern of people buzzing by them,” Patterson said.
With those concerns in mind, Patterson has plans to enforce the “no ride” zones.
“We may actually readjust the geo-fenced area in the Uptown area to where we expand slightly the ‘no ride’ zones,” he said. “Because one of the things we’re noticing is people riding the scooters on say, West State Street or West Union Street, and when they enter into a ‘no ride’ zone, although the power source for the scooter shuts off, the scooter can still move.”
In addition to Patterson’s concerns, Johnson has had issues with the disconnection of the scooters in certain areas.
“Underneath the Richland Bridge, they disconnect for some reason,” Johnson said. “I’ve had two rides stop there.”
Despite the concerns that have risen with the use of the scooters, Patterson believes the scooters have so far served as a useful mode of transportation for OU students.
“If ridership is more than they had anticipated within the first month of them being deployed, that’s kind of interesting because it tells me they are being used,” he said.