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Electric Scooters: ‘Freedom to Move’

In an email to Central Michigan University students on April 25, the university announced electric scooters arriving on campus and in Mount Pleasant. The scooters are meant to be used by students and Mount Pleasant citizens as an alternative to driving short distances via automobile. 

The scooters, supplied by the company Spin, are an effort in “changing mobility for good,” according to Head of Spin Government Partnerships Jimmy Gilman. 

The city of Mount Pleasant passed an ordinance in October 2022 allowing for electric scooters and skateboards to be used around town. Spin immediately reached out to Mount Pleasant in December to obtain a permit for providing its scooters in the city. 

CMU passed a similar ordinance in April at the Board of Trustees meeting, and 200 scooters were placed on campus and downtown shortly after.

“I think the layout of CMU and Mount Pleasant is very well-suited for micromobility,” Gilman said. “To have a dense area of students living on campus and the area surrounding campus, as well as the city center of Mount Pleasant nearby … really is a great case for micromobility.”

Spin, based in San Francisco, California, was acquired by European micromobility company TIER Mobility in March 2022. Together, the two organizations work to make micromobility safe, equitable and sustainable, according to Spin’s website

“In the United States, we see about a third of car trips happening that are three miles or less,” Gilman said. “So the idea that shared scooters can replace those types of car trips, those shorter car trips, really is the main sustainability aspect.”

Gilman said the battery-powered scooters are an environmentally-friendly substitute for gasoline-powered cars. And what makes the scooters in Mount Pleasant even more sustainable is their swappable batteries, averaging about 40 miles per battery.

While Spin operates in large cities like Detroit, Los Angeles or Denver, they use charging hubs for its electric scooters, according to Spin’s website. These hubs serve as places to park and re-fuel a scooter when it runs low on battery. Gilman said he believes the swappable batteries in Mount Pleasant are better for the environment than building hubs around town to charge scooters. 

Gilman said the scooters can also serve as a gateway for people purchasing their own electric scooters. If people like the scooters they rent, they may opt to buy one to use permanently. 

CMU is the fourth campus in Michigan to receive Spin scooters, with the other three being University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, Michigan State University in East Lansing and Eastern Michigan University in Ypsilanti. 

Safety policy

With these new scooters comes safety measures to ensure proper usage both on and off campus. According to CMU’s scooter policy form and Assistant Vice President of Facilities Management Jonathan Webb, scooters must:

  • Not operate over 10 mph while on campus 
  • Only have one rider per scooter
  • Remain outside at all times 
  • Be parked at bike racks on campus while not in use (once off campus, there are designated scooter parking locations downtown)
  • Not be used by CMU faculty, staff, volunteers or student employees

How to rent a scooter

Spin’s app, “Spin – Electric Scooters,” available to download on Apple and Android, allows people to rent a scooter from the convenience of their smartphone. Once opened, the app provides a map of the user’s current location and the available scooters to rent in the area. Riders can click on a scooter parked near them, and view the battery charge and rate.

It is $1 to start the scooter, and an additional fee of $0.39 is charged each minute.

The Spin app also provides users with safety videos for how to ride the scooters, and allows riders to view their ride history, contact customer support, view FAQs and load a balance into a personal virtual wallet for future rides. 

“We’ve seen a lot of excitement in ridership on the scooters, both among folks in the Mount Pleasant [area] and among students on campus,” Gilman said. “We’re permitted through the end of this year with the city of Mount Pleasant, so we’re hoping to have this be a long-term relationship with … Mount Pleasant … and with Central Michigan University.”

Matt Ryder, a CMU junior majoring in broadcasting, said he thinks the scooters are a “convenient source of transportation if you’re running late to class or a meeting.” 

“I have yet to use them, but I’m sure they’re a ride of a lifetime,” Ryder said.

Ryder also expressed interest in an option for students to pay for scooter rentals with their FLEX dollars, which is extra money CMU students have with certain meal plans.

“I know students who have hefty amounts of leftover FLEX dollars at the end of the semester, so they could put them to good use if food is not their thing,” Ryder said. 

Future e-scooter plans

Gilman said Spin has reached out to several groups on campus to try and get more involved with orientations for new students. This way, incoming CMU students will know about an additional option of transportation on campus besides driving or walking.

“The city – through our permit – and the university – through development of their ordinance – have just been really great to work with,” Gilman said. “(It’s) a strong partnership thus far, it’s something that we hope to continue to build on.”

Webb said a separate e-scooter company, Bird Micro-Electric Mobility, will be meeting with CMU next week to discuss bringing its own scooters to the Mount Pleasant area. 

“CMU is not representing any scooter company, we’re just trying to be good partners in allowing them to operate within the city and within the campus,” Webb said. “If a third company comes, or a fourth, we are going to treat every prospective company who applies for license with the city in the exact same manner.” 

Source : Cm-Life