Bowling Green groups promote eco-friendly transportation


Falcon Media Staff

Photo of an electric scooter on campus.

Blake Pierce, Reporter

Two organizations in Bowling Green, Ohio, are paving the way for eco-friendly transportation within rural areas.

Meridian Rentals and Bowling Green Police Division (BGPD) have been working to reduce environmental emissions in the community by transitioning city transportation to include more sustainable vehicles.

Despite rural areas consisting of only 20% of Americans, according to the U.S. Census, it’s these areas that contain nearly 70% of roadway mileage, according to the Federal Highway Administration. 

Meridian Rentals is a micro-mobility project that rolled out 13 electric scooters (e-scooters) in Bowling Green. 

“We plan to expand our fleet to 25 vehicles next week,” said owner and Bowling Green State University (BGSU) graduate student, Shakir Blackett. “We have them ordered and are just waiting for the shipment.”

Meanwhile, BGPD has transitioned to hybrid vehicles, with six currently in their fleet and a plan to add three more by the end of 2023.

“This would essentially be about half of our marked fleet.  We were expecting to get more, but supply chain issues have slowed our transition,” said BGPD Lt. Adam Skaff.

Bowling Green’s community has responded to the increase in the Electric Vehicle industry by introducing a variety of transportation options, such as increased charging accessibility, shuttle services and e-scooters. 

Other cities, like St. Petersburg, Fla., have been at the forefront of sustainable development, being declared “The First Green City”  by Florida Green Building Coalition.

A University of South Florida student majoring in environmental science and policy, Olivia Smith, noted how St. Petersburg has been successful in promoting alternative methods of transportation. Smith said tourists in the city seem to be drawn to electric scooters and bikes.

“Everybody is always walking around, riding bikes or using the electric scooters,” she said. “There are so many, which is good because it’s convincing people to use them, especially when the weather is nice.”

Smith also discussed the importance of cheap public transportation to promote sustainability. 

“We have the Sun Runner hybrid bus that continuously runs from downtown all the way to the beach,” she said. “Lots of people use the service, and it decreases unnecessary, harmful forms of transportation.”

Blackett said Meridian Rentals focuses on affordability for college students in Bowling Green. He also revealed future plans to pay students for charging the e-scooters.

“My freshman year I had no way to get around Bowling Green,” Blackett said. “I saw the University of Toledo and many cities like Cleveland had e-scooters everywhere and I knew that we needed to have them in Bowling Green.”

The scooters cost $1 to unlock and 30 cents per minute spent on the scooter. There is also an available month-long pass for $29.99.

“I see our company slowly but continuously adding more electric vehicles around the area because people are using them 24/7,” said Blackett. “The app has had over 700 students registered since last September when we launched.”

Alongside the City of Bowling Green transitioning to hybrid vehicles, nine EV charging stations have been established around the city. In 2022, the EV charging market in Ohio grew 7.7%, making Ohio the third largest growth by state.

Consisting of the majority of roadways, rural transition into the EV industry is essential to curbing climate change, according to the International Energy Agency.

“It’s good to see people begin caring like this for the environment in more areas,” Smith said. “I see it reflected at BGSU with the programs that have been implemented, as well as the availability of sustainable alternatives.”