Sit 'n' Scoot

Vespa-like vehicles zoom into Austin's growing fleet of rentable electric scooters

Vespa-like vehicles zoom into Austin's fleet of electric scooters

Ojo electric sit-down scooter Austin skyline
Despite this rendering, electric scooters are not allowed on most Austin trails — including the Butler Hike-and-Bike Trail. Rendering courtesy of OjO Electric

If 2018 was the year of electric scooters littering — oops, we mean dotting — downtown Austin sidewalks, 2019 may be the year of sit-down scooters zipping down city streets. On January 8, OjO Electric announced Austin will be the launch site of its first sit-down scooter service.

Vespa-esque in design, the Light Electric Vehicles hit speeds of 20 mph (to meet City of Austin regulations) and can run up to 50 miles on a single charge. According to a rep, the company expects to receive the first LEV fleet in the next two weeks and will begin to roll out the rental service beginning on or before February 1. 

Delightfully billed as "the adult commuter scooter," would-be riders can reserve an LEV using the OjO app on iPhone and Android. To begin, the new fleet will be available in the Downtown Austin Project Coordination Zone, a box that runs from Oltorf Street to Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and between Mopac and Chicon Street. 

OjO is partnering with Bike Share of Austin, which oversees the local B-Cycle system and Austin Commuter Scooter, to oversee the launch. When it came to choosing the inaugural spot, operators said Austin — and the local transportation companies that operate here — made it the ideal fit.

"[Austin Commuter Scooter]'s understanding of the local Austin market and expertise in hands-on deployments makes this unique partnership the ideal launching pad for OjO's entry into scooter rideshare in the country's 11th largest city," said Max Smith. "Our OjO scooter is unique — it's unlike anything the rideshare scooter market has seen and our rider experience is the safest on the streets."

According to a release, OjO is "collaborating with local governments to protect the public's right-of-way while providing first and last mile mobility solutions," though it doesn't offer specifics on how exactly it does that. In the wake of companies like Lime and Bird deploying thousands of scooters in downtown Austin, the city has scrambled for a way to regulate the bikes while pedestrians and cars are increasingly scrambling to get out of their way.

The company did highlight a series of safety measures that will be installed on the bikes to help riders curb potential maintenance issues — and have a little fun. Among the features: 

  • Live-feed data transmission to share vehicle performance and information
  • Speakers to provide audible feedback including navigation, traffic alerts, construction zones, geo-fence approaches, speed reduction zone alerts, and nearby docking location alerts
  • Bluetooth capabilities so riders can stream music

Live out all your Roman Holiday dreams for $1.25 to start and $0.18 per minute after that. First-time riders can score an additional $5 credit for downloading the app.