As the Bird and Lime scooters face new regulations from the city of Columbus, a Columbus man is running a grassroots movement to help fight for dockless rideshare companies.
Donovan O’Neil, founder of Scooter Customers Organized to Oppose Temporary, Excessive Regulation, or SCOOTERCbus, knew that he had to get involved in the city’s conversation about scooters when Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther announced upcoming regulations.
“I felt that it was important to start a grassroots movement that would talk about holding back against regulations, educate on safe ridership and help promote the great places around our town that you can get to because of this increased mobility,” O’Neil said.
In a press conference, the mayor announced a plan for emergency rules to go into place this week, including banning scooters from being ridden on sidewalks.
O’Neil said he agrees with these types of regulations because he believes scooter legislation should match other two-wheel devices, such as bicycles. However, he said he doesn’t want the city to charge excessive fees to operate a rideshare company in Columbus.
“What we want to see happen is the city of Columbus become an innovation center, where people want to bring new disruptive technologies like dockless rideshare scooters to our city,” O’Neil said. “What [fees] do is … they inhibit future innovation and growth.”
As a political science graduate of Youngstown State, O’Neil has been involved in state and local governments his whole career. He is currently the director of the Ohio chapter of Americans for Prosperity, a conservative grassroots movement.
The stated mission of this movement according to its website: “[It] exists to recruit, educate, and mobilize citizens in support of the policies and goals of a free society at the local, state, and federal level, helping every American live their dream — especially the least fortunate.”
The limited government goals of AFP line up with the mission of SCOOTERCbus. However, O’Neil said he wants to make it clear that SCOOTERCbus is paid for out of his own pocket and that it is not associated with AFP.
SCOOTERCbus exists mostly online on Twitter and Facebook. O’Neil also has attended area commission meetings and held meet-ups to promote safe scooter use in Columbus.
“So far it’s been great. It’s an example that all politics are local. All issues are local,” O’Neil said. “You’d be surprised how polarizing these rideshare scooters can be.”
The battle for scooters in Columbus will continue on Tuesday at Columbus City Hall when a public hearing on dockless scooters will be held.