Howard County will officially begin a pilot program for a shared electric scooter system on Friday, June 3. The system will begin with a launch event at 10 a.m. tomorrow June 3 at the office building at 6100 Merriweather Drive in Downtown Columbia. 200 SPIN scooters will be part of a pilot program that will operate through Thanksgiving 2022. The operating zone is in Downtown Columbia, Wilde Lake, Oakland Mills, and parts of Hickory Ridge and Harper's Choice.
Below is a press release announcing the launch. Below that are some bullets from the shared electric scooters operations page on the Howard County Department of Transportation website.
Howard County Electric Scooters Sharing System Launch Event Set for June 3
The first shared electric scooter system in Howard County will officially launch on Friday, June 3, 10 a.m., at 6100 Merriweather office building in Downtown Columbia.
The system is operated by Spin, an electric mobility company, through a permit provided by Howard County Office of Transportation and partnership with Downtown Columbia Partnership, Brookfield Properties (owner of The Mall in Columbia), Columbia Association, and The Howard Hughes Corporation.
E-scooters are designed to reduce road congestion and cut fossil fuel emissions from automobiles. The electric scooters require a fraction of the energy of combustion engines and take up less parking space. Like bicycles, they are driven on roads and trails and generally follow the same safety rules. While relatively new in the United States, in some communities shared scooters have already proven to be an affordable and valuable first and last mile mode of transportation, providing connectivity to transit, business, employment and recreation.
“The Downtown Columbia Partnership encourages residents to try the electric scooters,” said Executive Director Phillip Dodge. “E-scooters can reduce harmful emissions to our environment and increase access to affordable transit for those moving around our community to get to work, to appointments and for other short trips,” he added.
“We are grateful for the support of our partners in initiating this new program to proactively address lifestyle changes, provide transportation options and improve our environment,” said Howard County Office of Transportation Administrator Bruce Gartner. “The e-scooters pilot will also allow us to gather data to help us improve micromobility in Howard County,” he added.
The pilot program will include up to 200 shared scooters and parking corrals, where scooters can be picked up and dropped off, on property of The Howard Hughes Corporation in Downtown Columbia, Columbia Association property in the Village of Wilde Lake and county right-of-way in the Oakland Mills Village Center, as well as other major destinations throughout the community.
“Accessibility and connectivity matter. Columbia Association looks forward to working with our partners to build on our multimodal transportation options, ones that serve a growing number and greater diversity of people across the Columbia area,” Columbia Association President/CEO Lakey Boyd said. “We are pleased to see our pathways being utilized in this new, exciting way, and we look forward to seeing how the pilot program is received by the community.”
The pilot program will test whether shared e-scooters provide efficient and inexpensive transportation for lower income individuals who do not own automobiles and for those in high density areas where a live-work-play lifestyle is being cultivated, such as the Merriweather District in Downtown Columbia.
“The Howard Hughes Corp. supports efforts to enhance the convenience of living in Downtown Columbia and of increasing access to and from this center of culture and commerce,” said Greg Fitchitt, President, Columbia, Howard Hughes. “E-scooters have been popular elsewhere, and I hope they will be popular here,” he added.
The launch of the e-scooters sharing program is open to the public.
From the shared electric scooters operations page on the Howard County Department of Transportation website:
SPIN intends to operate the pilot through Thanksgiving 2022. At that point, adjustments to the permit requirements and the County's micro mobility options moving forward will be considered and reported back to the Council.
SPIN must comply with the TERMS AND CONDITIONS FOR THE PERMIT TO OPERATE A PUBLICLY ACCESSIBLE ELECTRIC SCOOTER SHARING SYSTEM ON PUBLIC RIGHT-OF-WAY IN HOWARD COUNTY. These requirements set standards for safety, scooter relocation request time, riding rules, and much more to maximize safety and ensure sidewalks remain accessible for pedestrians.
SPIN customer service is available 24 hours a day at 1-888-262-5189 for any scooter operations related issues. The customer service number is printed clearly on every scooter.
The permitted scooter operating zone includes Downtown Columbia, Oakland Mills, Wilde Lake Harpers Choice and Hickory Ridge. The operating zone with be geofenced, so SPIN scooters will not be rideable outside of this zone. A map of the operating zone and corrals can be viewed here.
SPIN is providing marked parking corrals to help organize and centralize the parking and distribution of up to 200 scooters. At launch, there are 13 corrals. SPIN will provide a credit towards the next ride for customers that end their scooter trip by parking in a corral.
Scooters are considered the same as bicycles in terms of the laws in Maryland and Howard County with the same rules of the road, shared use pathways and sidewalks.
SPIN scooters are accessed through the SPIN app, available in the App Store and Google Play. SPIN Access provides assess to scooters for people without smartphones, mobile location services or credit cards.
Additional information on the program can be found here: OOT E- Scooter Page