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Starts & Stops

Boston-bound bike company switches gear, opts for scooter rentals

Motorized scooters, like these from Bird and Spin, have been showing up in cities around the U.S.Bloomberg

The company that only a few months ago signed a deal to bring dockless bike-rentals to neighboring communities around Boston now is getting out of the bicycle business.

San Francisco-based Spin will instead focus on the newest wheeled phenomenon hitting cities—electric scooters.

“As a company we are shifting our focus away from bikes to electric scooters,” Spin co-founder Euwyn Poon said in an email. “We have seen 10 to 20 times higher demand for our scooters than our bikes. Electric scooters have a lower barrier of entry, they’re even easier to use and get around on, and they’re extremely fun.”


In April, Spin agreed to bring its dockless bikes to more than a dozen Boston suburbs as part of an agreement with the Metropolitan Area Planning Council, a regional agency that helped launch the Blue Bikes program years ago. Another company chosen for the program, Lime, has already put hundreds of bikes on the roads of Chelsea, Malden, and several other communities.

Unlike the street bikes for rent in Boston and Cambridge, dockless bikes do not need a fixed station; users instead find the current location of available bikes using a smartphone app, and can drop them off wherever they like.

But before it could even bring its bikes to Greater Boston, Spin made the decision to go all electric scooter. Still, Poon stressed that the company still plans to honor the one-year agreement with MAPC by deploying in Arlington, Medford, Winthrop and a dozen other suburbs at some point this summer. Spin would also like to bring electric scooters to the region, but not without some sort of permission from local governments.

Lime also offers scooter rides in other cities, but company officials said that for now they are focused only on bringing bikes to the Boston area. City officials said several of the companies, including Bird and Razor, have reached out to them about offering those rentals in Boston.


Eric Bourassa, the MAPC’s transportation director, said the agency is not actively planning a scooter rental program in the region. “We would really want the cities and towns to be calling for it,” he said, and they aren’t yet.

Bourassa noted that Spin’s change in focus happened somewhat abruptly, since it’s only been a few months since it won the right to operate bikes here. Poon acknowledged that Spin shifted gears after the contract award.

“The industry is moving very quickly,” Poon said.

Adam Vaccaro can be reached at adam.vaccaro@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter at @adamtvaccaro.