A Chattanooga business is expanding downtown area electric scooter rentals and providing pickup and drop-off coverage in the North Shore, Southside, and next to the Riverwalk.
ChattaScooter has plans to include more sites to rent and drop off the e-scooters early next year, such as around the Tennessee Aquarium and UTC, said Carolina Molloy, co-owner of Adventure Sports Innovation.
"We understand the ban on dockless scooters," she said about the city's regulations. "This meets existing guidelines."
In February, the City Council indefinitely banned controversial dockless electric scooter companies from coming to Chattanooga after some had expressed interest.
Many municipalities had reported problems with dumped and junked vehicles, riders speeding along on sidewalks instead of streets and increased numbers of accidents.
Molloy said that ChattaScooter is different because the stand-up scooters can only be rented and dropped off at the company's locations. At present, the sites are at Adventure Sports, 191 River St.; One Riverside Apartments, 950 Riverside Parkway; and The Local Juicery and Kitchen, 48 E. Main St., she said.
To ensure the scooters aren't abandoned on city streets or sidewalks, the renter's credit card continues to be charged unless the vehicle is turned in correctly, Molloy said.
"It will continue taking charges up to $1,000," she said. "That's a pretty big incentive to not leave it in the middle of a curb."
The Local Juicery is the latest entity to join the ChattaScooters network, doing so just last week.
Luis Contreras, team leader at The Local Juicery, said he's excited to offer the convenience of the scooters for residents and visitors to the city.
"We definitely see the growing demand for more choice in transportation around the city," he said.
Pricing is $24 per hour, or 40 cents per minute, charged by the minute via a phone app from Levy Inc., Molloy said. Daily and longer-term rentals are available through Chattanooga-based Adventure Sports Innovation.
While ChattaScooter launched this summer with a limited initial fleet of vehicles, the company has plans for more scooters and locations as demand ramps up in the spring, Molloy said. Currently, there are 15 scooters in its fleet, she said.
"What we're trying to do is set up the structure for the spring and summer," Molloy said. "We want to make sure we iron out all the kinks. The winter is the slow months. It's a good time to test this structure."
Amid the coronavirus pandemic, Molloy believes the scooters are safe.
"You're not sharing public transportation," she said. "You have your own transportation. You can be socially distant from everybody else."
ChattaScooter allows people age 16 and older with a smartphone and a credit or debit card to rent the e-scooters, the business owner said.
The speed of the scooters is limited to 15 miles per hour, she said. While the scooters can go faster, the business wants people to be careful, especially first-time renters, Molloy said, adding it also offers helmets.
But when the scooter is in sport mode, there's more acceleration, she said.
The idea behind the scooters is mainly for riders to have fun, though the addition of the Main Street business to the network permits transport between the North Shore and Southside, Molloy said.
Adventure Sports Innovation was launched at its Coolidge Park storefront in July 2018 by Molloy and co-owner husband Patrick. The business calls itself an experience shop, featuring some of the latest in recreation technology.
Molloy said 2020 has been tough on the business as it has on many, but she's keeping a positive outlook.
"Once we have a vaccine, everyone cooped up will want to do outdoor adventures," she said. "That's what we're mainly about."
Contact Mike Pare at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @MikePareTFP.