Electronic scooters provided by companies such as Bird, Lyft and Lime are available in cities across the United States. Manhattan will soon join that list. By mid-spring the company Zagster will be deploying scooters in the city and at Kansas State.
Manhattan has experience with shareable community transportation with the Green Apple Bike system, but Jansen Penny, student body vice president and senior in industrial engineering, said this change to personal electronic mobility devices is inevitable.
“Green apple bikes will only be phasing out,” Penny said. “As you know, Green Apple bikes can be found in trees, in people’s garages, or hoarded in a fraternity’s backyard. … One of my favorite things about Zagster is that they have linked scooters with GPS tracking within the scooter itself. It allows better geo-fencing and it then becomes very good when considering, ‘How do you handle a situation when the last person to use it threw the scooter in a backyard?’”
The company Zagster also wants to reward positive use of the scooters by offering incentives when they are checked in correctly. The scooter service will also be bringing their own repairmen to move, fix and charge the devices.
“Other companies contract workers … who get paid per scooter to pick up, charge and take them back out in the morning,” Penny said. “A big concern was with the resident halls, we didn’t want people using up the university’s electricity and raising the bills by charging their scooters to make $50. The really cool thing about these is that they have people within the company that will fix and charge them.”
The committee working on getting the scooters to Manhattan is still negotiating variables like what areas need geofencing, how they are going to allow speed limits on campus and follow city ordinances in Aggieville which doesn’t allow skateboards or bicycles to be ridden on the sidewalks. Once all that’s sorted out, the scooters will roll out in Manhattan.
“I think it will be great for students because I think it helps solve a parking issue that a lot of students have when they consider ‘If I park here, then I have to still walk 15 minutes on campus,’” Bret Knappenberger, senior in finance and student representative on the committee, said. “I think having the scooters on campus could help solve some of those parking headaches and it will be easier and convenient for a student who lives further away from campus to get to campus in a good amount of time.”
K-State has been working with the city of Manhattan during this process to make sure only one scooter company was contracted to avoid geo-fencing issues that could arise.
“I do acknowledge that a lot of people are not happy about the scooters being on campus and are worried about it for safety reasons,” Penny said. “But I would like people to know that K-State will be doing as much as they can to work with Parking Services and facilities to make this as safe and as accessible as possible.”