April Fools: New Startup Launches Walk-Sharing Service in Columbus
Columbus may not currently have the best walk score in the US, but a new app created by a local startup aims to change that. ShüGo is the name of the new service, which utilizes the popular features of car-sharing, bike-sharing and ride-sharing services and overlays them onto the most basic form of transportation: walking.
“Walking is low-tech, dull and anti-social,” explains ShüGo co-founder and OSU Fisher College of Business student Tad Holden. “We’ve decided to bring walking into the 21st century by creating an easy-to-use shared service that opens up the pedestrian experience to a much wider audience.”
The concept is simple. Once the app is downloaded to your iPhone or Android device, the mapping system helps you to locate “Walk-Stations” located throughout the city in hotspots and destination areas, very similar to the CoGo Bike Share network. Once a nearby station is discovered, you can proceed to the station, unlock one of the walk lockers, and sign out a pair of walking shoes with your registered smart card.
Similar to car2go, the smart card will need to be setup online in advance, and linked to a valid ID and credit card. When checking out shoes from a Walk-Station, your card is billed at a rate of 25 cents per minute until you “re-dock” at the next station and return the shoes to an open bay.
If a Walk-Station is too far out of the way, users can take advantage of a premium service and “Request a Ride”. Similar to ride-share platforms Uber and Lyft, you can place a reservation to have a livery-pedestrian come to your location and provide a piggyback ride to your destination. Costs for the premium service vary based on livery rates, trip distance and unnotified surge pricing.
“Columbus is our test market, and potential pedestrians will be excited to know that we have already installed 20 Walk-Stations with several dozens of pairs of locally-sourced refurbished sneakers,” says Holden. “Additional stations are planned for installation once approved by the City of Columbus.”
A spokesperson for the Columbus Department of Public Safety said that they’ve never heard of ShüGo and that both the basic and premium services are in violation of multiple city codes. The Department plans to allow ShüGo to operate without any interference from the city for now, and plans to revisit the city code at a later date, much to the chagrin of the local Segway industry.
“These services are unregulated and dangerous to the public,” stated Chuck Leyton, a local Segway lobbyist. “There’s a high likelihood that ShüGo users will fall down and get hurt. Segways never fall over thanks to our patented self-balancing system.”
Despite some challenges with legality issues, supporters remain confident that ShüGo will be embraced widely.
“I’m very excited about the new technology these guys are bringing to the low-tech world of walking,” says David Hunegnaw, partner at the Founders Factory and mentor to the ShüGo team. “I can’t wait to see more features added, including gamification, social media integration, and potential user interface support with Facebook’s Oculus Rift.”
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