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City council passes SPIN bike share, university support for program undetermined

After a series of back-and-forths and requests to table the discussion, Oxford's city council moved to pass a resolution allowing a six-month pilot bikeshare program with SPIN -- a San Franciso-based dockless bicycle sharing company.

Council voted unanimously to pass the resolution at their last meeting on Feb. 20, but, several concerns were raised as council members debated the proposal.

City manager Doug Elliott requested to table the discussion after informing council that he had received an email from Miami University's general counsel stating that "SPIN has no right to commercial access" on Miami's property.

Members of Miami's Associated Student Government (ASG), including student body president Maggie Callahan, spoke on behalf of the pilot program which ASG helped to develop.

"There is no liability on the university's end, but general counsel says we need to find a home [for this program] in the city," Callahan said.

Council member Glenn Elerbe countered Elliott's suggestions to table the issue by arguing that Miami students who try to solve problems are often presented with "a smile and an obstacle" from the university's administration.

"If we table, we'll provide you with another obstacle, and I don't want to do that," Elerbe said.

Kyle Rowe, SPIN's liason for the Oxford pilot program, explained that the bikes are tracked via GPS. The program would be open to all Oxford residents including, but not limited to, Miami students.

"Each ride will cost a dollar a trip," Rowe said. "But for anyone with a '.edu' email address it will cost fifty cents, so students can use it a lot to get around town and campus."

Rowe discussed how SPIN uses geofencing, a GPS technology that creates a virtual geographic boundary, to track where users are allowed and not allowed to leave bikes after completing their trips.

SPIN also has an agreement with BikeWise, a bicycle store in Uptown Oxford, to commission all SPIN bike repairs with the local shop

Mayor Kate Rousmaniere was concerned that a city decision to sign a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with SPIN would drive a wedge between the town and the university.

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"We have given the university ample time," Callahan said. "If [council] tables it, then the university has no reason to come to the table with ASG."

Junior and ASG senator James Gale also addressed city council.

"A signed MOU would force Miami's hand," Gale said. "If we wait two weeks there's no faith Miami will come to talk."

Ted Pickerill, executive assistant to the president and secretary to the Board of Trustees, commended student leaders for their efforts, but cited that the university has certain procedures to follow when dealing with vendors and student safety.

"Neither the university groups responsible for considering such services and conducting the necessary due diligence, nor those offices responsible for arranging any associated contracts, have received any proposals to consider [regarding the SPIN bike share pilot program,]" Pickerill said. "That said, we do plan to meet with Maggie Callaghan and other student leaders to learn more."

Check for more updates on the university's decision to adopt the program.