Published in Economic Development

E-scooters have arrived in Grand Rapids

BY Wednesday, September 30, 2020 01:55pm

GRAND RAPIDS — After two years of planning, the city of Grand Rapids has launched an e-scooter sharing program. 

The pilot program — in partnership with San Francisco-based Spin, a Ford Motor Co. subsidiary — starts with 300 scooters serving a 12-square-mile area including downtown, business districts and residential neighborhoods on the west and southeast sides of the city. Up to 1,500 scooters could be deployed based on demand.

Officials say the scooter sharing program aligns with its equitable development and mobility strategic plan, serving 74 percent of the city’s underserved neighborhoods. Spin also allows access to scooters at a reduced rate for low-income residents as well as options for those who don’t have a smartphone or bank account.

“As a solo open-air form of transportation, scooters can offer residents a lower-risk mobility option for short distance travel,” Justin Kimura, assistant director of Mobile GR, said in a statement. “We are proud to partner with Spin on this new and eco-friendly transportation option for our residents, commuters and visitors.”

Using the Spin app, riders can find available scooters in dozens of nearby parking zones, where the scooters must be docked between trips. Rides cost a dollar to unlock and 15 cents per minute. The city is launching the program with free trips Oct. 2-4. The scooters are also programmed to slow or power down in busy areas and pedestrian-only zones.

Grand Rapids officials began discussing an e-scooter program in 2018, as MiBiz previously reported. The city had been in talks at the time with operators Bird and Lime, and were learning from Detroit about how scooters could accommodate other public transit options.

The Grand Rapids City Commission recently approved $400,000 for an e-scooter and bike sharing pilot program, and city officials say a second provider plans to launch “additional mobility options in the coming weeks.”

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