Spin scooters hit Omaha streets after routine disinfecting

Published: Jul. 24, 2020 at 10:07 PM CDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - Scooters are back on the streets of Omaha for the second summer of a pilot program. Among the complaints from last year — riders leaving piles of scooters in neighborhoods and keeping providers accountable to zoning rules.

Spin is the first of two companies to hit the streets this summer.

Coronavirus leads to different circumstances for rolling out scooters once again. Spin’s operations manager says the company is now routinely disinfecting every scooter that comes back to its warehouse in Little Italy off 8th and Pierce Streets.

They want to win city leaders over, so they are making other changes as well.

“Last year, [Spin] was a lot of entertainment and we know that,” operations manager Vince Rukstalis said.

Rukstalis is in charge of the 750 Spin scooters in Omaha. He says the company is learning how to operate better in a city like Omaha and he thinks riders have as well, opting for scooters instead of enclosed rideshares like Uber during the pandemic.

“The length of our ride is increasing, as well,” Rukstalis said. “Last summer, it was approximately 15 minutes a ride. Right from the get-go this year, it’s been about 20 minutes a ride, so they are definitely being used more.”

As ride time on Spin scooters is increasing, so have concerns for spreading coronavirus through high-contact surfaces.

Spin gave an inside look to see how chemical disinfectant is sprayed on scooters that come back to the warehouse for charging or maintenance.

The handlebars are cleaned along with throttles and brake poles before they’re charged up.

“Last year, we didn’t really disinfect the scooters at all,” Rukstalis said. “They would just stay out and only come back when they needed. If they were really dirty and needed to be washed. It wasn’t a normal procedure at all.”

The company is also limiting the number of scooters out on Omaha streets from 400 to 500 at a time That will allow them to keep tabs on where they end up and potentially prevent piles of abandoned scooters from showing up in different parts of the city.

“We’re trying very hard to make sure, as opposed to what people may have seen last year, 10 to 15 scooters are on a street corner, we’re really trying to keep that down to four, five or less,” Rukstalis said.

These efforts are to keep riders safe and leave a better impression on city leaders.

“I’m just very thankful the city council gave us a chance to do this,” Rukstalis said.

Other safety concerns include helmets. They are not required for riding, but Spin has new ones available at its warehouse off 8th and Pierce Streets for free.

All the scooters are tracked through GPS which notifies Spin when scooters are either damaged or in the “no-go zones” where they are not allowed.

Copyright 2020 WOWT. All rights reserved.