GROVE CITY – A Grove City College student is interested in bringing electric scooter rentals to campus and the town.
“The sidewalks are plenty wide enough, I think,” Jonathan French said during Monday night’s borough council meeting.
The freshman is studying computer science, and he got the idea after seeing some other students using scooters. He wants to get experience starting a business that helps the community.
He could make a mobile app that people would use to rent the scooters for a small fee, similar to the scooter program recently introduced in Pittsburgh.
Charging stations would have to be installed downtown and on the college campus.
The scooters would have GPS tracking and connect to a server so that French could monitor where they are.
He could also set boundaries so that the scooters aren’t taken too far away.
When users are done with the scooters, they return them to the nearest charging station, where they scan a barcode of sorts with the app on their phone.
In Pittsburgh, scooter rentals are $1 up front, then the users are charged according to how long they ride, he said.
The scooters wouldn’t be on the road with motor vehicle traffic, but they would have the same rights as pedestrians.
The scooters themselves would have lights and possibly other features like turn signals.
French is still trying to work out a plan to install the charging stations downtown. He asked about electrical outlets that are downtown next to trees on the sidewalk.
Those are meant for Christmas lights and are timed to run from dusk to dawn, said Borough Manager Vance Oakes.
There are electrical vaults in the sidewalk that could be used, he added.
That would come with a service charge for use of electricity, said council member Scott Jaillet, asking if there is a borough ordinance that addresses electric scooters on the sidewalks.
Scooters aren’t “explicitly detailed” in an existing ordinance, but council could develop more specific rules and regulations, said Taylor Pokrant, Grove City’s code enforcement and zoning officer.
“We need to do some research,” said Mary Kay Mattocks, council president.
She said that she applauds his entrepreneurship.
French said he wants it to be safe for riders. He has a fellow classmate willing to help him outfit the scooters, and one of his professors is helping him with coding for the app.
Jaillet asked what would happen if the scooter battery dies before the rider is able to return it to the charging station.
It can still be used as a regular scooter, and French said he can make sure that he or a helper would be available to collect any scooters that might not make it back to a charging station.
The proposal was referred to the borough’s parks and recreation committee for further discussion.