Ride-Share Opinion

Derrick Rassinier (left) and Hayley Thompson (right), both juniors, test the Spin scooters Dec. 7. Thompson said she plans to start using the scooters on her way to class.

The use of ride-sharing programs around Fayetteville can benefit the environment and diminished urban congestion despite various criticisms — but more can be done to keep dissenters happy.

Rideshare businesses are receiving pushback because of what some think is a lack of consideration to the cities where they introduce their programs.

Although not everyone is upset with the ride-share scooters scattered all over town, a restriction needs to be introduced to resolve the primary issues, like the eye sore of a tipped-over scooter in the middle of a park or walking path. The environmental benefits of scooter and bike share companies greatly outweigh the cons, but more restrictions need to be applied to these businesses to increase implementation.

Much of the problem is concerned with aesthetic appeal.

The issue of scooters cluttering the streets could easily be resolved by implementing a business design more similar to bikeshare programs, where bikes are located at designated docks throughout the city.

Washington, D.C., is set up this way through a company known as Capital Bikeshare. The bikes will continue to charge the customer until they are docked properly at one of many docks throughout the city. Implementing this factor into the scooter-share businesses would greatly improve the common complaints from both citizens and city governments.

Over the last year, the electric scooter fad has been popping up in cities all across the U.S. Within the industry, various companies have brought in more than $100 million per company to the industry over the last six months. Companies such as Bird, Lime and Spin scooters are rising in popularity, claiming that their programs eliminate urban congestion and reduce reliance on automobiles, two factors that provide significant environmental benefits. 

Implementing these new forms of transportation has not been done so easily, considering the quick rise in popularity that the various ride-share programs have received. Bird and Lime, the largest two of the companies within the U.S., have faced many setbacks in implementing their businesses in cities across the U.S.

San Francisco, for example, has sent cease and desist letters to Bird Rides and similar companies claiming that their business practices create a public nuisance and are unlawful. The conflict between cities and ride-sharing businesses does not stop here.

City officials everywhere are claiming that these scooters are unnecessary clutter on walkways and promote vandalism. Others claim that, with the inability to regulate the use of helmets by customers, the scooter companies pose a threat to the general public.

Properly restricting rideshare companies would allow the environmental benefits provided by these scooter programs to shine.

A Fayetteville survey showed that over 1,500 campus affiliates have been making the switch to more alternative modes of transportation since the introduction of scooter and bike share programs around the UofA. A net increase of 34% faculty and staff and 16% students have made the switch since 2014.

The scooter programs have significantly lowered the amount of vehicle-related pollution in the area. The scooters provide an efficient means of transportation that is quick and emission-free.

These scooters also help foster community, encouraging groups of people to travel together instead of commuting in cars alone, which was the case of 83% of students commuting to campus before the scooter fad hit Fayetteville.

The criticism received in cities like Fayetteville could be resolved by implementing simple restrictions with the city’s approval, like incorporating a docking system. In turn, cleaning up the scooters would help the public to celebrate the benefits these programs bring to their community.

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