Scooters, e-bikes return to Providence

Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza cuts a ribbon as Spin dockless e-bikes are introduced June 14, 2021 at the Temple to Music at Roger Williams Park in Providence. Photo by Steve Klamkin WPRO News

By Steve Klamkin WPRO News

Electric bikes and scooters are returning to Providence streets through an arrangement between the city and bike share service Spin, a division of Ford Motor Company, several years after earlier efforts with other companies were discontinued after being plagued by thefts and vandalism.

Mayor Jorge Elorza Monday announced 100 3-bikes and scooters have already been stationed around the city, with up to 400 bikes being introduced by September.

“There are so many benefits to these bikes,” Elorza said in a ribbon-cutting ceremony held in a driving rainstorm beneath the cathedral-like structure of the Temple to Music in Roger Williams Park Monday morning.

“Not only are they convenience, they’re cheap, they’re fun to ride, but they also allow us to reduce our carbon emissions throughout the city,” said Elorza, who describes himself as an avid bike rider.

Spin put a number of the “dockless” e-bikes on display. Demonstrations were scrubbed due to heavy rain, but the company’s Providence Operations Manager, Alyssa Gergel demonstrated how they work, including a self-contained locking mechanism that she said was designed to thwart thefts.

“We’ve taken a lot of measures for this bicycle to ensure that theft and vandalism isn’t a top issue for us,” said Gergel.

Sharon Steele of the Jewelry District Association and several other neighborhood groups attended the announcement, and raised concerns with past bike efforts, which resulted in bikes being ridden over the pedestrian bridge over the Providence River, or stolen bikes being dumped into the river.

“What we’re saying is, the city has to be proactive, instead of reactive. They have to worry about ways to prevent the bad stuff from happening,” Steele said.

“Now, whoever is using them who whoever is the last to use them will likely be someone who’s given their information, their credit card, and just make it so much more likely that they’re going to use it responsibly,” Elorza said.

According to a statement from the Mayor’s office, the e-bikes cost $1 to unlock and $0.29 per minute to ride.

The city will collect $80 per scooter and $20 per bicycle, and Spin will pay the city five cents per trip.

According to a spokeswoman, there is no cost to the city.