Electric scooters make their debut in Manhattan as the fall semester begins

LINK Scooters have been placed around the Manhattan Kansas area to serve the Kansas State University Campus and Manhattan residents. August 27, 2020. (Photo by Dylan Connell | Collegian Media Group)

Kansas State students have a new way to get to classes and around town this semester. In partnership with the university, LINK electric scooters made their debut in the Manhattan community this summer.

Superpedestrian, the leading micro mobility tech company from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, engineered these scooters.

According to the Superpedestrian website, LINK scooters can withstand 10 times the bumps of industry requirements and are able to come to a stop 37 percent faster than competing scooters.

The company also says the wider deck and lower center of gravity of the scooters make them easier to balance and more accessible for a variety of riders.

Adrienne Tucker, assistant director of Parking and Transportation Services, works as the liaison between the K-State community and Superpedestrian.

One of the main reasons LINK was chosen over other scooter companies, Tucker said, is because each scooter is equipped with a GPS, making it easier to locate lost or broken scooters.

At the end of each night, the scooters are collected and cleaned before they’re put back out for riders the next day.

To ride, students have to download the LINK app and connect a form of payment. Scooters are $1 to unlock plus 25 cents per minute of use.

Evan Lochmiller, operations manager for Superpedestrian, helps respond to any issues that arise for customers. From 7 a.m. to 10 p.m., Lochmiller said he keeps the “flow maintained” to ensure the daily schedule is on track.

“I think the main message that we would like to get out is to look for a parking space,” Lochmiller said. “Don’t park [the scooters] on the sidewalks or park them in an actual vehicle parking space.”

In addition to parking etiquette, Lochmiller said Superpedestrian also places an emphasis on safety.

“We encourage everybody to wear a helmet, just like they would if they’re riding a bicycle,” he said, “and to really respect pedestrians and share the road.”

LINK’s safety features are meant to help prevent any accidents. If riders are behaving dangerously or trying to make skid marks, the scooters will shut themselves down. This technology gives the scooter a sense of when it’s being mistreated.

Tucker said LINK scooters are likely to be more successful in Manhattan than Green Apple Bikes since the technology eliminates the threat of stealing. If someone were to keep a scooter in their garage or throw one in a bush, LINK employees would be able to find it immediately.

Even with these features, Tucker said LINK’s success isn’t all on the company’s shoulders.

“The success of this program at K-State is going to depend upon the riders and how the riders respect the scooters, people around them and the space that they’re occupying, Tucker said. “If the K-State community wants to keep the scooters, they need to ride with safety in mind.

I’m a senior in journalism & mass communications. In addition to writing on staff for the Collegian, I’m the online editor for Manhappenin magazine and I've worked for the Royal Purple Yearbook. I'm also the founder of the Wildcats Against Sexual Violence student organization and I'm licensed to fly drones! When I graduate, I hope to get a job as a criminal investigative reporter.