With interest growing in alternative, “greener” modes of transportation, a Bethel electric scooter company is betting that its app-driven rental system has the potential for becoming the norm.
“We’ve seen the trends around the country and in Europe for electric scooters,” said David Harvey, who with Alan Moisio launched Lynx.City in September. “It’s gained a lot of popularity on the West Coast for ‘last-mile’ transportation options, and we felt the time was right to introduce it here as well.”
Harvey knows something about transportation; he’s also a co-owner of Vroom Service Now, the third-party restaurant delivery service headquartered in Brookfield. He said he and Moisio, who owns Bethel’s smart-home climate-control company Complete Control Systems, wanted to “get a head start” on helping to introduce the concept to the area.
Perhaps surprisingly, Lynx.City’s first rollout has taken place not in Bethel, or even nearby Danbury, but in New Milford, where Mayor Pete Bass quickly saw its value.
“With Lynx available, we are able to provide alternative last-mile transportation options to our residents and tourists,” Bass said. “This is a 100% green mode of transportation and offers news ways to explore the local businesses community and our beautiful downtown.”
The company racked up 300 rides in its first four days of availability, earning plaudits from residents and participating businesses alike.
“It was perfect for downtown travel,” said resident Dan Stra. “The setup was as easy as setting up any other app-based service. While the downtown area is easy to cover on foot, the experience on a Lynx scooter will draw me to scooting around town more often.”
“We’re excited to have access to Lynx scooters at Makery Coworking,” added Tony Vengrove, founder and CEO of the New Milford coworking space. “Beyond the sheer entertainment value of riding the scooters, I think many of our members, including myself, will use them to expand our lunch options or run errands that fall between walking and driving.”
Once users download the app and sign up for the service with a credit card, they add money to their digital wallet for each ride: $1 to unlock their account, and 23 cents per minute, with $25 per-day and $50 per-week options also available. The scooters must be returned to a dedicated Lynx.City rental location, though not necessarily to the same one from which they first took possession.
Each station will have anywhere from three to 10 scooters to begin with, Harvey said, depending on demand. A total of 50 scooters are now available in New Milford.
The idea, he said, is that “This could be your primary vehicle during the week – $50 a week is less than most people spend on a car payment plus taxes, insurance and gas – and you’re cutting down on emissions, which helps the environment.”
All Lynx scooters are insured, Harvey noted, and riders are required to stick to designated bike lanes. Riding on sidewalks is prohibited.
In addition, all Lynx riders are required to wear helmets, and must be at least 18 years old; parental or guardian consent is required for underage riders. The top speed is 15 miles per hour.
The general lack of consistent governance – not to mention consistently flat surfaces and weather – have been something of an obstacle for the firm, Harvey said, noting that some towns still lag behind bigger cities when it comes to regulating bike lanes. Nevertheless, he said, interest has been expressed by lawmakers in Danbury – Roberto Alves, running for city council this year, took a spin recently – and in Norwalk.
In addition to Connecticut, Lynx.City also has its eye on Florida, where the climate is a bit more predictable, he said.
So how much potential does Lynx.City have? According to a report by the National Association of City Transportation Officials, the number of rides Americans took via dockless scooters, bikes, and traditional bike-share systems more than doubled from 2017 to 2018, to 84 million trips. Leading that charge were dockless electric scooters, with 85,000 available for rent in about 100 U.S. cities from such companies as Bird, Lime, Spin, and Skip.
Besides the eco-friendly aspect, Harvey said the fun factor cannot be discounted.
“There’s definitely a sheer entertainment value involved,” he said. “People have said riding one makes them feel like a kid again. I highly recommend any adult to at least try it.”