Spin, a San Francisco-based dockless scooter company owned by automaker Ford Motor Co., made its debut in Baltimore last week.
The company will start with 80 scooters, placed in three locations: Cafe Jovial and 1100 Wico Mico in Washington Village/Pigtown, and the Dovecote Cafe in Reservoir Hill.
Spin, which joins Bird and Lime in offering scooters in Baltimore, hopes to set itself apart by forging relationships with businesses and residents in the community — “asking for permission, not forgiveness,” said Dan Winston, the company’s general manager for the Baltimore, Washington and Northern Virginia region.
“It’s a process that just starts with listening,” Winston said. “I’ve enjoyed stopping in local businesses, [saying] ‘Hi, we’re launching next week. What would you think about us putting some scooters outside your café?’”
The company, which employs a full-time staff rather than freelance “chargers” as companies like Bird and Lime do, has identified Baltimore as a perfect market for its electric, rental scooters.
“It’s a transit network that has challenges, some gaps, that don’t make a transit trip convenient,” Winston said. “Scooters can be a really important way to fill the gap in the ways we expect but also in the ways we don’t expect.”
The city transportation department’s dockless scooter pilot program charges the companies $15,000 plus a dollar per scooter to place their fleets on the street.
The pilot program, which was supposed to end in February, has been extended until April 30 and expanded to as many as six providers and 12,000 vehicles.
JUMP, a bike-and-scooter rental company owned by Uber, also has been approved to join the pilot program. It’s unclear when JUMP plans to launch in Baltimore. JUMP spokeswoman Susan Hendrick said in an email the company had “nothing to announce” yet.
Spin already has fleets of bikes at Towson University and scooters in Washington, D.C., according to its website. According to a 2017 Washington Post article, the company also has a high-profile adviser in former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley.
Like Bird and Lime, Spin charges riders $1 to unlock scooters and an additional 15 cents per minute to ride.