ST. GEORGE — Electric scooters may soon find their way into Washington City.
The Washington City Council heard a presentation from Spin Scooters, the same company that serves the micro-mobility demand in neighboring St. George. Owned by Ford Motor Company, Spin has been operating in St. George since 2019.
Though it experienced a six-month hiatus from St. George streets during 2020, the scooter company returned last fall and is looking to expand into Washington City.
“There’s an an overwhelming request for this service,” Rusty Hughes, Washington City’s economic development director, told the City Council during a workshop meeting held Tuesday.
Hughes told the council how officials in St. George have been impressed with the scooter company and contracted it to be the city’s exclusive scooter service for the time being.
“They got glowing remarks from St. George,” Hughes said.
Alex April, Spin’s head of government partnerships, told the City Council over the phone that California-based Spin currently operates in over 80 cities and university campuses across the United States and Europe and seeks to work with potential partner cities to create safe and reasonable rider regulations.
“A lot of people have been opening the Spin app in Washington City, showing us there’s a lot of interest there,” April told the council.
There are particular benefits the city will gain if officials choose to go with Spin’s proposal, Hughes said.
Among those advantages is the simplicity of continuity of service for residents between Washington City and St. George, dealing with a company that takes local people on as employees rather than independent contractors, and being able to examine the company’s track record with St. George and all associated with that partnership.
Spin proposes to bring in a cap of 300 scooters into Washington City, though not all at once. Instead, between 150-200 scooters would be brought in with the remainder left open to meet increased demand if needed.
Proposed spots where the scooters many be set up for use would be along Telegraph Street, Buena Vista Boulevard, North 1100 East, the downtown area and down Washington Fields Road by the Sullivan Soccer Park.
However, these positions are not set in stone and are subject to change if the City Council decides to go with Spin’s proposal.
While the majority of the City Council appeared to be in favor of the idea of bringing scooters into the city, council member Roger Bundy asked about how Spin planned to educate riders about “the rules of the road,” as it were, along with other potential restrictions on scooter use.
April said those efforts can be handled over the app used to rent the scooters.
Before a person can rent a scooter, they may have to review some basic rules, and if requested to do so by the City Council, Spin will have to ask the potential rider to provide a driver’s license. Currently, St. George doesn’t require scooter users to provide evidence of a driver’s license, which prompted council member Doug Ward to ask for a copy of St. George’s own scooter regulations for review.
“It would be nice if our rules were not tremendously different from theirs for the sake of continuity,” Ward said.
Similar issues raised in St. George over scooter use were also raised by the City Council during the presentation – such as what happens to the scooters once their power runs out, where they are charged, how they can possibly avoid becoming a problem by being left in random locations and how to restrict their use in certain areas.
Spin has staff on hand who collect the scooters left across St. George on a regular basis and recharge them at a warehouse. Two charge stations also currently exist on the Dixie State University campus and in front of the Town Square along Main Street.
April told the council there are ways to determine where the scooters are dropped off and where they can and cannot be used. A process called “geo-fencing” can be used to keep the scooters from working in areas the city deems off limits, and additional education can be given through the app on where a scooter should be left once its battery is drained so it does not become a right-of-way hazard.
“They are flexible,” Hughes said. “They’re willing to work with us.”
Hughes said she favors bringing a scooter company into the city because it can provide cost-effective travel options for people around town. A personal example she gave was of a family member who rode a scooter to work each day until they had saved enough to buy a car.
The fee to rent a Spin scooter is $1 to unlock it, then 10 cents to 35 cents a minute respectively depending on the range traveled. Reduced costs also exist for those who qualify.
Spin hopes to begin operations in Washington City before the Ironman 70.3 World Championship comes to the area in September.
In addition to Spin, Hughes said Bird, another e-scooter company, has also approached the city with a proposal to begin operations there.
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