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Tech Company Showcases E-Scooters to LIC Residents Ahead of City Permit Decision

LIC Resident Alex Levi riding the LINK e-scooter Tuesday (Michael Dorgan, Queens Post)

Oct. 20, 2020 By Michael Dorgan

Representatives of a company that is vying to be a provider of e-scooters in the city held a press conference in Long Island City Tuesday to demonstrate their high-tech product and why the city should choose them.

Superpedestrian, a transportation robotics company located in Cambridge, Mass., is one of several companies competing for permits to operate an electric scooter-sharing service starting March 1, 2021. The service would operate along similar lines to the CitiBike bike-sharing system.

The company unveiled its e-scooters outside The Forge apartment building, located at 44-28 Purves St., and gave demonstrations and free rides to members of the public.

The scooters and their supporting smart technology systems are called “LINK” and have been designed to prioritize safety and withstand the rigors of shared use, according to Paul Steely White, Superpedestrian Director of Development and Public Affairs.

“Our e-scooters are durable, can be left in the rain and can withstand abuse,” White said.

The scooters have a maximum speed limit of 15 miles per hour, although beginners will be restricted to 8 miles per hour for their first ride as a safety precaution, he said.

It will cost $1 to unlock a scooter and riders will then pay around 25 cents per minute thereafter. Like CitiBikes, all transactions will be done via an app and only one person will be permitted to operate the scooter.

There will be docking stations at various locations throughout the city to recharge the scooters although the batteries can last up to four and a half days without charge, White said.

LINK e-scooter (Michael Dorgan, Queens Post)

A key feature of the LINK e-scooters is that they have built-in technology systems that have been designed to keep both riders and pedestrians safe.

For example, the scooters will shut down automatically if there are any live mechanical issues and the system can determine what parts need servicing ahead of time which makes the service more efficient for customers and keeps operating costs down, he said.

The computer systems also have built-in maps that prevent riders from operating the scooters on sidewalks or in areas outside of the city.

White said that this feature – called geofencing – makes the Superpedestrian scooters maps more accurate than some of its competitors. He said that many other e-scooters use GPS or cloud technology which aren’t as reliable.

“The technology gives our scooters the ability to stay in-bounds and stay off side-walks because we recognize that to operate in a dense city like New York it is incumbent that operators respect pedestrians,” he said.

Riders are encouraged to wear safety helmets but they are not mandatory and are not provided with the scooter. However, Superpedestrian will be selling helmets at a discounted price online, White said.

The city council voted in June to legalize e-bikes and authorize an e-scooter pilot program to be announced later this month, similar to CitiBike.

The city is expected to announce permits for three to five companies to operate in Queens, The Bronx, Brooklyn and State Island, White said.

None of the scooters will be permitted to operate in Manhattan in the short-term after resistance from local elected officials who had concerns that the scooters might be used on sidewalks, White said.

He said that at least seven companies have applied for permits.

Superpedestrian is already operating in Rome, Salt Lake City, Arlington VA. and were recently awarded permits to operate in Seattle and Oakland.

“We are a relatively newcomer to the space but we’re doing well and I think we’re proving to be a company that can work well with cities,” White said.

“We want to help cities solve their traffic congestion and also create more sustainable ways of getting around.”

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