At least one scooter company is taking steps to try to decrease the clutter that comes from dockless vehicles being left wherever a rider feels like it.
Spin is placing docking stations for its scooters at locations across the District and Northern Virginia where users can pick up and return the rented equipment. Spin said the charging stations, on private property, will not only keep the scooters powered up but will also bring some order to sidewalks where the devices are often left lying around.
Dan Winston, Spin’s regional manager for the Washington area, said 40 docking stations built by the California start-up Swiftmile will be placed in the District, Arlington and Alexandria over the next two weeks. More are expected to be available if the pilot is successful. The company is also installing the docks in Ann Arbor, Mich., Tampa and other markets.
The stations will initially be powered by replaceable batteries, Winston said, but plans are to transition this fall to a solar-powered system. They will be placed on private property — including at office and residential buildings — where owners have agreed to have them. The stations will show up in the Spin app so riders can easily locate them for scooter pickup or drop-offs.
“This will contribute to a sense of order, a sense that this is where these scooters belong,” Winston said. “Instead of placing the scooter on the sidewalk, you put it in a charging station, which is on private property and inherently out of the public way.”
The stations can draw more foot traffic to businesses, Winston said, without increasing the demand for parking.
Charles Lancaster, who runs the innovation division for Gould Property, which has a large portfolio of commercial and residential real estate in the Washington area, has partnered with Spin to allow the docking stations on some of Gould’s properties. Lancaster views the docking stations as an amenity for tenants who want to have easy access to the transportation option and as an opportunity to make sidewalks safer. Scooters will have a place rather than cluttering entrances and impeding pedestrians.
“This is part of the future of a smart-city ecosystem,” Lancaster said.
Only Spin scooters will be compatible with the stations. The company operates up to 720 scooters in the District, 350 in Arlington and 200 in Alexandria. The company is expected to soon launch scooters in Fairfax County.