Re-launching Wheels: Socially Distanced Transportation that Is Safe and Clean
After temporarily pausing our operations in March due to COVID-19, we’re excited to announce that today Wheels is re-launching our service in Los Angeles, San Diego, Dallas, Austin, and Orlando. We previously re-launched our service in Stockholm and Madrid and we will be re-launching in the rest of our existing markets, and some exciting new ones, in the coming weeks.
To further our “Ride Safe” mission, we are making two important hardware changes as part of our re-launch. First, we are rolling out the industry’s first-ever self-sanitizing handlebars and brake levers so that our riders only touch clean surfaces. Second, 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.
The transportation landscape is changing
As cities begin to re-open and more people get back to work outside the home, transportation within cities is changing…we think for the better. The transition to sustainable transportation is accelerating and inevitable, so electrified transport is a no-brainer. But for those who don’t have cars or don’t want them, what’s the best way to get around? Car ride-sharing requires you to be in an enclosed car with someone else, so that presents challenges. And while we’re huge proponents of public transportation, no one wants large numbers of people to be crammed inside a bus or train.
As a result, city after city after city is announcing new initiatives to make it easier for people to ride bikes and scooters – transportation options that are sustainable, affordable, and allow for social distancing.
But for bike and scooter networks to help cities re-open, they have to be safe, they have to be clean, and they have to be capable of being comfortably ridden by everyone.
Wheels was born out of a desire to make micromobility safer. Every action that drives our company forward is built on the safety concerns of our community. Our ‘safety first’ strategy led us to forego using the traditional stand-up scooter in favor of a completely different form factor – one with bigger wheels, a lower center of gravity, and a seat for more points of contact with the rider. It also led us to be the first micromobility company to offer a smart helmet system that is integrated directly into the device.
In line with our commitment to safety, we recently announced a partnership with NanoSeptic, the leader in self-sanitizing surfaces, on a first-of-its-kind offering in the shared transportation space. Through this partnership, we are rolling out retrofits to Wheels devices that include custom-made NanoSeptic surfaces on our handlebars and brake levers. NanoSeptic surfaces contain mineral nanocrystals that are powered by any visible light to create a powerful and toxin-free oxidation reaction that continuously breaks down any organic contaminants at the microsocopic level without the use of poisons, traditional heavy metals or dangerous chemicals.
This adds to the many other steps we’ve taken to elevate our sanitation measures for our riders, our teammates, and our communities:
Our 24-hour field operations team is regularly sanitizing Wheels bikes at our hub locations where the bikes are set up for deployment. As part of this process, our team is running a UV wand over our bikes since they have been shown to break down the virus’s genetic material.
The seated design of the Wheels device provides maximum comfort, and enables it to be ridden by people of all ages and sizes, including those who do not have the physical ability to stand up on a scooter or pedal a bicycle. This allows us to significantly expand the range of people who can benefit from micromobility rather than forcing them to use transportation options that do not promote social distancing or are not sustainable.
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.
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.