Wheels is now restarting its shared electric scooter service after shutting down during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic in the US. The company is also making changes as it reopens its operations that it hopes will position its Wheels seated electric scooters as a safer alternative form of transportation for cities still reeling from the coronavirus.
Wheels electric scooters are back on the road
Wheels is now reopening in a number of US cities before expanding to new locations soon.
As the company explained in a statement provided to Electrek:
We’re excited to announce that today Wheels is relaunching our service in Los Angeles, San Diego, Dallas, Austin, and Orlando.
We previously relaunched our service in Stockholm and Madrid and we will be relaunching in the rest of our existing markets, and some exciting new ones, in the coming weeks.
While the COVID-19 pandemic was picking up steam in the US in early March, Wheels was already working to maintain a safe operating environment on its seated electric scooters.
The company had begun a partnership with NanoSeptic to install self-cleaning surfaces on its handlebar grips to help reduce the spread of the coronavirus.
The NanoSeptic surface contains mineral nanocrystals that receive energy from any visible light to create a “powerful and toxin-free oxidation reaction that continuously breaks down any organic contaminants at the microscopic level without the use of poisons, traditional heavy metals, or dangerous chemicals.”
Another change to the Wheels platform comes in the form of new baskets that are being added to the front of the scooters. Unlike standing electric scooters like those used by Bird and Lime, seated electric scooters have lower centers of gravity and are safer to use for carrying cargo or other loads. By adding a new basket to the scooters, Wheels hopes that its scooters can become an even better utility-style alternative transportation option for commuters and city dwellers. Instead of taking a crowded bus to the market, some shoppers could ride a scooter and use the basket to carry their groceries home.
By using micromobillity options as a public transportation alternative instead of personal cars, riders can help cities avoid a looming traffic explosion.
As the company explained:
We are starting to add baskets to the front of our devices so that riders will be able to use Wheels, rather than a car, to shop, pick up essential items, or do errands, and to do so without having to carry those items while riding. Because of Wheels’ unique form factor, we are able to put baskets on the front of our devices — something that traditional scooters do not offer — and we are now starting to roll these out, first in Los Angeles and soon in other markets. Micromobility becomes much more practical if it can be used for shopping, picking up essential items, or doing errands, rather than simply transporting a person. It is also safer if riders do not have to carry their items while riding. By incorporating baskets, Wheels is making that possible.
Wheels has also announced that the company will be donating proceeds from new riders’ trips to a number of organizations fighting against racial injustice.
Company representatives explained further:
In honor of George Floyd, and to help confront the pervasive injustice and racism that has been suffered by the Black community, Wheels is donating all proceeds from 8 minutes and 46 seconds of all riders’ first ride through June 17, 2020. Donations will be made to the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, the Equal Justice Initiative, Color of Change, and the American Civil Liberties Union. Let’s come together to stop racial injustice. Black Lives Matter.
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