Scooter rental service takes off in downtown Warren
WARREN — Not inclined to walk around the downtown? Or drive, sometimes circling Courthouse Square and beyond, searching for that elusive parking spot?
Well, navigating the greater downtown Warren area has gotten a bit easier now with battery-powered scooters available to rent. Swipe-In-Ride launched Tuesday on West Market Street outside BRITE Energy Innovators. A franchisee of Bird Co., which has partnerships across the globe to locate electric scooter rental services, Swipe-In-Ride is owned and operated by Leshawnda Blackwell-Pinkard of Youngstown.
She has 100 scooters in her fleet. The first 25 were deployed Tuesday.
So why Warren first?
“I believe that the Warren area is growing and expanding,” said Blackwell-Pinkard, 41, who is from Warren. It’s a “rebirth” and “something we just want to be a part of.”
She said she intends to release more to the public when the service starts to grow, and wants to expand into Youngstown when the time is right.
It works like this — users need to download the Bird app to their phone or other device first. Using the app, they scan the barcode on the scooter, pay and essentially go. There is a short presentation on helmet usage and safety.
The scooters can travel up to 40 miles on a single charge and go can as fast as 40 mph. They come equipped with alarm and GPS systems; a scooter will not active without payment. Swipe-N-Ride can monitor the scooters full-time through the technology.
“It will let me know as manager when ones are low, what needs recharged, what needs repaired, what issues are going on or if someone is traveling outside of the area or if they haven’t purchased a ride,” Blackwell-Pinkard said.
Users can rent them in $5, $20 and $50 increments. “The higher you go, the longer you ride,” Blackwell-Pinkard said.
The idea to bring them to Warren and eventually Youngstown — the two most populous cities in the Mahoning Valley, both of which are undergoing a revitalization and growth — came to Blackwell-Pinkard, she said, upon seeing them while in New Orleans.
She called Bird Co. about six months ago. The company reached back about a month ago and the service was launched.
There is no definite timeline to expand to Youngstown. Growth, she said, depends on how well the scooters do in Warren.
“Once we get everything up and rolling good here (in Warren), our plan is to, with Bird of course, expand to the Youngstown area,” Blackwell-Pinkard said.