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Spin scooters providing more travel options for Grand Rapids residents

An 18 month micro-mobile pilot project launched today with over 200 scooters placed downtown.

GRAND RAPIDS, Michigan — Spin staff started putting out their stand-on scooters at 7am, Wednesday morning. Attached to each scooter was a tag with a promo code 'FREERIDE' attached to let users know that if they download the app they would get up to five dollars of use for free, just for trying them out.

This is just the first phase of a long term micro mobility plan formed by the Mobile GR Office. 

"It was recommended as our city wide strategic plan in 2019, they recommended that we work to expand transportation options for people through out the city and this was one tool for that," said Kristen Bennett, Transportation Engineering Projects Manager.

Mobile GR has teamed up with Spin and possibly one more vendor to bring stand-on and sit down scooters to the city. By the end of the year Grand Rapids is hoping to have both stand up and sit on scooters along with electric assisted bikes on the streets.

In the spring the commission approved $300,000 for the program, and in August the final total approved was $400,000. We were told the extra money is going toward the virtual parking zones and needed extra signs. They also used the money to expand the program to reach more lower income neighborhoods and get some safety helmets as well as educational information out to the neighborhoods, according to Bennet.

The scooters do not come without helmets. If you take a safety quiz online with spin and pass you can get access to a free helmet but you have to pay for shipping. And if you are worried about what the winter will bring for the program, Bennett says they will still be here.

"Grand rapids is a four season city, We are looking to pilot this through all four seasons, We have a partnership to work with the vendors if need be to shut everything down if there's really inclement weather, but people here know how to deal with the winter, they do a great job of plowing and keeping things clear, its pretty easy to still get around."

The issue she is trying to avoid is finding scooters in the middle of sidewalks and behind cars.

"We have heard a lot about scooters ending up being where the shouldn't be, and we want to say this is apart of public transportation so we want it to feel like a transit stop. Hey go pick up and drop off your scooter at a scooter stop. They are all over the place so that we would make them as convenient as possible," Bennett said. "Often there are several parking places in a few blocks."

Scooter rules follow bike laws. You can not ride them on the sidewalks and must be 18 or older to ride them.

The scooters directions come in English and Spanish. And if you sign up through the Spin saying you receive federal/state assistance all of your rates are 50% off.

The local spin staff are in charge of re-charging the scooters. The staff will service the vehicles by picking them up from over 100 designated parking spaces that the city is laying out. In the future if the pilot is successful charging stations may be added.

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