Spin e-scooters returned to Ohio University on Monday after previously being removed from campus during the winter season.
“Spin decided to pull the scooters out over the winter months, which I think is normal for a lot of scooter companies across the nation,” Athens Mayor Steve Patterson said. “So now (that) things are getting nicer outside, they have decided to redeploy their scooters.”
While the e-scooters are back on university and city property, it is the company’s responsibility to make sure the e-scooters are sanitized during the pandemic.
“Since our local teams are W-2 employees of Spin, we have full control over operations and safety procedures,” Spin Communications Manager Sara Dodrill said in an email. “When COVID hit, we engaged global experts to determine how to keep our riders and staff safe. Spin has implemented strict disinfecting regimens on all scooters daily, and enforce social distancing among our warehouse staff … All local employees receive PPE and have their temperature taken at the start of every shift.”
Safety methods during the pandemic are enforced by Spin as well.
“We are focused on safety. Our operations specialists ensure to adhere to all COVID safety protocols,” Dodrill said in an email. “They also perform safety checks both when they pick up the scooter and in the field spot checks. We encourage our riders through the app to return scooters to designated parking points to reduce clutter on campus. We incentivize riders to take a safety quiz within the app.”
Spin previously held ”safety riding events,” where it gave away free helmets for those using the e-scooters, Dodrill said. The events are currently paused because of the pandemic, but those who earn a 100% on Spin’s safety quiz can earn a $5 credit and a chance to win a free helmet, according to OU’s website.
E-scooters rentals are available for a rate of $1 per ride and 35 cents per minute, according to OU’s website.
Despite the safety and sanitization precautions Spin is taking, some are still concerned with the e-scooters being back on campus.
Patterson said he is concerned with students parking the scooters incorrectly on campus again.
“The fear is being parked incorrectly to where they become an ADA hazard in the Uptown area. That's certainly a concern, as it has been in the past, because there are certain places in which they are to be parked,” Patterson said. “In 2019, we found them just all kind of lying on their sides or jumbled together or whatever to where code enforcement was constantly having to reach out to Spin and reporting to them that …. they aren't being properly placed.”
Some students are concerned with the safety of pedestrians while others are on the scooters.
“I think they need to have some regulation because I've almost been hit a couple times with people just zooming down on the pathways,” Jake Heyob, a junior studying psychology, said. “If they're not going to build a specific path or something, (they) maybe need signs.”
Despite the concerns with safety and placement, some still believe the scooters will be beneficial to have on campus again.
“It affords individuals an alternative form of transportation, that, in particular, is not a car or fossil fuel vehicle because these are electric,” Patterson said. “So, from an air-quality standpoint, it's a better way to get back and forth in the Uptown area than to use a car.”
Heyob said despite his lack of usage of the scooters, they are still beneficial to those who do not have a mode of transportation on campus.
“They can provide quick transportation, I guess, if someone needs it (and) if they don't have a bike,” Heyob said. “It does make it easier if you don't want to walk somewhere, you're running late or something.”