Rental scooters have garnered national headlines as they sweep into communities across the country, receiving mixed reviews.
Lime, a rental bike and scooter company, announced last week it was officially operating on campus in conjunction with Ohio State after making its debut in Columbus in July.
“We’ve been working with the university now for several months on bringing our program to campus, both our bike and scooter share program,” Lime’s Operation Manager for Columbus Kyle Bivenour said. “We’ve been working closely with the university as well as the student government on bringing a successful partnership to Ohio State.”
Lime’s fleet on campus — including bikes and scooters — is comprised of 150 vehicles. Bivenour said they could look into expanding based on their popularity.
For the university’s part, the relationship with Lime will replace the recently expired three-year contract of bike-share service Zagster.
“This new pilot program more closely aligns with nearby communities and continues to support the City of Columbus Smart Cities effort,” university spokesperson Dan Hedman said. “Ohio State continues to support alternative mobility options to best serve the needs of our campus community. Our focus remains providing a menu of options that deliver convenient, affordable service and connectivity to the surrounding community.”
One of the main concerns of those with indifferent responses to, or downright contempt for, the scooters revolve around safety concerns and riders getting in the way of normal foot and vehicle traffic.
To address those concerns, Ohio State posted rules and guidelines for riding on motorized scooters that can be found on the Transportation and Traffic Management website and in emails issued to all students.
Meanwhile, in Columbus, no official ordinances have been passed, though City Attorney Zach Klein has instructed police that riding scooters is legal on sidewalks and roadways.
Lime’s strategy to addressing safety is two-fold: giving safety instructions for riding the scooters and engaging and informing the community.
“We put safety instructions on all of our scooters,” Bivenour said. “Also, the first time you download the app and ride a scooter there’s a tutorial on how to properly and safely ride our scooters.”
Lime has already started working to engage the campus community, making an appearance with a booth at Buck-i-Frenzy.
“We’re very involved in a lot of different community events,” Bivenour said. “Rider education and interacting with community is something we actively do and love to be a part of.”
A unique challenge that could present itself on campus is students consuming alcohol at bars and trying to use scooters to get home.
Bivenour said the charging process will help mitigate that risk in coordination with community engagement.
“One thing to note about our scooters is that they need to be charged overnight so we do have nightly retrieval of scooters,” Bivenour said “That’s one way that helps to reduce some of that temptation.”
As far as the negative attention shareable scooters have been receiving, Bivenour noted the amount of the fleet affected is rather small.
“That’s a really small percentage of our fleet,” he said. “It’s about 1 percent nationwide of our fleet that deals with theft and vandalism.”
It remains to be seen if a happy medium will be found between those opposed to scooters and those embracing them. For now, students can continue to zip across campus to classes.