DANIEL KENNEBECK | Special to Lindenlink
Lindenwood is exploring the possibility of bringing an electric scooter-sharing service to campus not only to provide a convenient mode of transportation for students but to help alleviate parking issues.
The university has a large commuter population, and on some parts of campus, available parking is scarce. Administrators have been researching different scooter and bike ride-sharing companies, and Bird Scooter has emerged as the frontrunner, according to Ron Heater, assistant director of Student Involvement and Campus Recreation.
The scooter company brands itself as a “last mile vehicle sharing company.” Bird was founded in 2017 and according to its website, labels itself as the “Uber of scooters.” The nationwide company recorded over 10 billion rides after it started last year.
Heator is in charge of researching and vetting companies to figure out which one would be the best fit for campus.
“Bird is willing to work with us to create co-branded items as well focusing on customer communication,” he said.
Before reaching a decision, multiple safety concerns would have to be worked out. Heator said he is worried about the safety of riders while commuting around campus and if scooters will end up on Main Street in St. Charles.
Although it may seem like the scooters would be a safe way for intoxicated students to get back to campus, riders must follow the rules of the road, Heator said, which includes no operation of the scooter while under the influence.
“We [Lindenwood University] just have to make sure that students understand that operating these scooters come with the same responsibilities as driving vehicles,” Heator said.
Chris Stockwell, a senior manager of partnerships at Bird, has been in direct communication with Heator and his team. The ultimate goal, according to Stockwell, would be to start out by having Birds solely on Lindenwood’s campus and then expand the operation to the entire St. Charles community.
Lindenwood University would incur no cost to bring the scooters to campus, and all maintenance of the scooters would be taken care of by a professional team of mechanics.
The company also provides partners, like the university, $1/day for each scooter placed, which would provide funds to invest in transportation infrastructure projects, Stockwell said.
No definite timetable has been set for when a decision will be made because Heater said the scooters are still in the “preliminary stages.”