September 21, 2018

City Council, Miami ASG Support Transportation Sharing

Oxford City Council and Miami University’s Associated Student Government (ASG) are united in support of bringing a bike- and scooter-sharing program to the city, despite a university policy prohibiting use of electric scooters on campus.

At Tuesday’s City Council meeting, Charles Kennick, an off-campus senator for ASG, told the council ASG had voted unanimously to support the program in an effort to advance transportation services in Oxford and around the campus. ASG supports “any and all shared transportation devices,” including electric scooters, he said.

Kennick also acknowledged the city’s cooperation with students to bring the services to Oxford, and praised the council for its efforts to help combat Miami policies.

Council member David Prytherch responded, thanking Kennick and students for their work on the project, and criticized the university.

“When Miami underestimates its students, it does so at its own peril,” he said.

In a letter sent to the city on Monday, David Creamer, Miami’s senior vice president for finance and business services, said the university had safety concerns about the use of the e-scooters in congested pedestrian areas and on streets with vehicular traffic.

Electric scooter and bike sharing programs are in use in many communities around the nation. Customers generally rent the scooters and bikes through an app on their phones and, depending on the jurisdiction, park them in designated locations or leave them on the sidewalk to be rented by someone else or to be picked up by the rideshare vendor.

City Manager Doug Elliott told the council that Oxford has designated two parking spots uptown, just off High Street, for scooter parking. He said that Bird Rides Inc., one of the primary vendors interested in setting up a program in Oxford, told the city it would pick up the scooters in the evening for recharging. “That way,” Elliott said, “they would not be available to rent by people coming out of the Uptown bars at night. That should alleviate some of the safety concerns.”

Elliott said three companies, Bird, LimeBike and Spin, have expressed interest in bringing their transportation-sharing services to Oxford.

Mayor Kate Rousmaniere wondered aloud at Tuesday’s meeting whether the companies’ interest in Oxford might wane if their scooters can't be ridden on Miami’s campus.

Bird is scheduled to make a presentation to the Student/Community Relations Commission at 3 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 21, in the LNCB National Bank Community Room at 30 West Park Place. Bird, which has submitted a bid for the program, is scheduled to demonstrate the company’s product and answer logistical and safety questions.