GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Around 11:30 Wednesday morning, a U-Haul van pulled up to 300 Monroe Street and parked in front of a freshly-painted white rectangular box on the sidewalk. Then the driver jumped out, opened up the back doors and pulled out four scooters, one by one, placing them in the box.
“Today, Spin is rolling out 200 scooters and we should be up to about 300 by the weekend,” said Justin Kimura, assistant mobile Grand Rapids director. “From there we’ll continue to analyze use and they have the ability to bring it up to 1500 if necessary.”
The scooters are a part of the city’s new year-long, $400,000 electronic scooter share program that’s meant to give commuters an "efficient, equitable and safe mobility option" to driving, he said.
“We’ve got about 60 stations throughout the city right now, mostly in the downtown area, north Monroe and on Michigan Street,” Kimura said. “We’ll be adding another 40 stations over the next week moving more to the West side, down into the Grandville area, up into Uptown and North Porter.”
The best way to access them, he said, is to first download the Spin app, which will help riders find the nearest scooter. Once it’s located, the rider can then take a picture of it to unlock it.
“The charge is $1 to unlock the scooter and 15 cents a minute for usage,” Kimura said. “When you’re done, you park it it in another designated zone. And, that’s it.”
However when it’s out and about on the streets, it’s important a rider obeys the rules of the road, he said. It’s when people don’t follow the rules that scooter programs like this one become controversial and banned in cities.
Kimura said in Grand Rapids, users are not allowed to ride on sidewalks.
“We encourage you to wear a helmet first of all,” Kimura said. “That’s the biggest safety thing you can do. Other than that, you operate them in the street just as you would a bicycle.”
He also stressed abiding by traffic laws, yielding to pedestrians and no drinking and riding. If a driver sees a rider using the scooter inappropriately or irresponsibly, they can call the city or use the app to report the person.
“We’re providing equitable, safe mobility options for all people in Grand Rapids,” Kimura said. “But at the same time those people have a responsibility to use these safely and follow the rules and to not ruin a good thing.”