Electric scooters roll out in downtown Grand Rapids

Grand Rapids

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Motorized scooters can now be found all over downtown Grand Rapids.

The scooters are a part of a pilot program the city rolled out Wednesday in partnership with Spin, which is owned by the Ford Motor Company. 

“It’s great. So easy to use and so much fun to ride,” said Cody Ballmer who rode a scooter through downtown Thursday morning.

Ballmer says he and family are in town visiting from Grand Blanc. Thursday was their first time riding the motorized scooters.

“We’d heard of Lime scooters in Lansing, but we’d never heard of Spin. So, it’s pretty cool to hear about different businesses doing this kind of stuff,” said Charles Ballmer as he stood next to his brother on a scooter also.

The city says they invested about $400,000 to install parking zones and signage for the scooters. They did not pay for actual the vehicles. The city says some of the money will also be used to lower the price point of some rides for lower income individuals.

“The main goal is to increase transportation options, especially lower cost options. This is a $1 to unlock and 15 cents a minute to ride,” said Kristin Bennett with the city of Grand Rapids. “We want to make it accessible to as many people as possible.”

The scooters are rolling out as winter approaches and during a global pandemic. The city says although it is not ideal timing, they believe it will work.

Bennett says in addition to charging the vehicles, Spin staff clean them when taking them in for service.

She says she doesn’t anticipate weather being an issue as cities like Minneapolis still ride throughout the winter months.

“We may be starting in the fall, but we are a four season city and we’re looking to pilot through all seasons and see how that works,” Bennett said.

The city says they are preparing for drivers who leave scooters in places they don’t belong, an issue several other cities have faced. After the first day of scooters on the streets, News 8 crews already found a handful out of place.

City officials hope adding an abundance of places to park the scooters along with incentives from Spin will motivate people to park properly. People can also send information to the city about vehicles that are parked incorrectly.

The city says there are plans to put bikes at more grocery stores and major business districts by next year.

Riders will be able to enjoy the scooters free of charge Friday at 6 a.m. until Sunday at midnight. The city says they plan to roll out more scooters across the city. They say there is also interest in adding e-bikes with seating next spring so more people can use them.

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