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Scoot over, scooters: New moped service coming to downtown Austin

Scoobi mopeds are the latest vehicle rental service headed to downtown Austin. (Scoobi)

Want scooter riding services out of the 'Lime'light?

Scoobi, a Pittsburgh-based moped rental service, is bringing 200 of their vehicles to downtown for on-demand use starting on Tuesday, with the service fully functional by Friday.

The service is the latest to come to town in an attempt to alleviate downtown traffic and limited parking. According to the Texas A&M Transportation Institute, Austin-area commuters endured over 48,000 hours of traffic even in a COVID-stricken 2020.

Scoobi scooters are ever-so-slightly more expensive than industry-leading Lime scooters, but they have the leg up in storage with a lockable trunk, phone mount and charger included in each bike for the mobile professional or student. Like electric scooter apps, the fully-electric mopeds are also designed to combat CO2 usage: according to Scoobi's press release, Pittsburgh riders have saved over 388,000 pounds of CO2 in the 353,000 miles traveled with the service since its founding in 2018.

"Our mission is to provide an efficient, alternative mode of transportation for Austin's residents and visitors in order for them to experience the vibrant culture of the city in a fun and sustainable way," Scoobi CEO Mike Moran said in the release.

The self-proclaimed "People's Moped" has reached an agreement with the city that allows free metered parking for all of the 200 street-legal mopeds. The bikes will be placed in key areas around downtown and can be tracked through a GPS on the Scoobi app. Mopeds can be reserved for 10 minutes free of charge before a $2 unlocking fee and 36 cents per-minute riding fee are added. Scoobi charges 18 cents a minute while paused in the app, and discount packages are also available.

Bikes come with free storage compartments, and the app helps users park with a parking guide. (Scoobi)

The company will join industry leaders Lime and Bird, sit-down scooter app Wheels and Capital Metro's MetroBike service in providing rental options downtown. The city has lost most of the 14 scooter services that littered Austin's streets back in 2018, but as of January, 5,100 Lime scooters, and 3,250 Bird scooters and 1,000 sit-down scooters are still parked downtown. Lime has also implemented a pilot program with 500 e-bikes.

There has been turbulence in the scooter/rental vehicle's short existence, including a pandemic-driven low of just 10,551 monthly scooter rides in April 2020. But after a mass exodus of rental scooter companies, Austinites took over 343,000 trips in May 2021 alone. MetroBike services are still much lower but reached a record high of over 17,000 in the same time period.

Nationwide, scooters and other micromobility vehicles have cropped up in even the most traffic-congested cities like New York. One perk of Scoobi is that it provides two different-sized helmets in its lockbox—an effort that may combat safety concerns around head injuries from e-scooter accidents.

The mopeds can go up to 30 miles per hour and have a battery life that lasts up to 30 miles. They're street legal, so they won't be allowed on bike lanes or sidewalks. Users must be at least 18 years old and have a valid drivers' license.


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