Wheels removed from campus, company cites ‘operational cost’ as reason


Tucker Covey / College Heights Herald

Jaxon Straub, a freshman in finance at WKU sits on a Wheels scooter during a Q&A at Centennial Mall on WKU Campus in Bowling Green, Ky. on Monday, Sept. 12, 2022.

Michael Crimmins, Administration reporter

The Wheels electric bicycles officially terminated its contract with Western Kentucky University and Bowling Green, ending operations this past Sunday.

According to Jace Lux, university spokesperson, Helbiz, the parent company of Wheels, informed the administration last week that they would stop providing services to campus. This is in spite of the required 30 days notice outlined in the contract.

“You probably noticed the bikes are gone, which was really a surprise to us,” Lux said. “From the university’s perspective it was going well. It was really disappointing, I think we had found a transit solution there that was beneficial to a lot of people.”

Despite the contract requirements, Lux said there is no “ceasing operations early” fee that the company will have to pay.

He said Helbiz only cited operational concerns in their notice to the university. Lux said the university tried to compromise with the company but was turned down.

“As a compromise we asked ‘can you at least keep the presence on campus until after commencement when most students are gone?’ and they informed us that operational costs would prohibit that,” Lux said.

Helbiz could not be reached for comment prior to publication despite the Herald’s multiple attempts.

Matthew Muse, a sophomore majoring in mechanical engineering, said he used the bicycles heavily during his fall 2022 semester.

“Last semester, Fall 2022, I had a very busy schedule and used the electric scooter quite a bit,” Muse said. “First, I used the scooters for fun before quickly realizing how useful they actually were to get to class on time or get down the hill for a club meeting. I found myself using them about three times a week several times a day.”

He said he recently bought a bicycle to more easily get around campus, but he believes they are still a useful tool for students.

“I think the scooters were very useful for kids who lived further down the hill,” Muse said. “I believe many will be sad to see them go. I won’t miss them as I have my own form of transportation now, but there was a time when I relied heavily on them.”

Lux said this departure not only affects WKU but the city of Bowling Green as well.

“It wasn’t just a WKU initiative, it was a Bowling Green initiative too,” Lux said.


Telia Butler, Downtown Development Coordinator for the city of Bowling Green, said the city and WKU were told of the departure at the same time. She also said they entered into the same agreement as the university and “supported the WKU ask to remain on campus until the semester’s end.”

“The only reason they stated [for leaving] was due to operational costs after restructuring the company when Wheels [was] sold to Helbiz,” Butler said.

Butler said the city “would be open to another partnership with WKU and similar vendors” in the future as it was “deemed a success” by both WKU and Bowling Green.

“We thought it was going very well and liked this extra amenity to better connect Downtown … to the university,” Butler said.

Lux said he hopes WKU will have another transit partner for the upcoming semester but the university wants to make sure the new partner is “committed to staying.”

“The university will pursue other options,” Lux said. “I can’t give a timeline on that because we want to make sure it’s a quality option. We’d love to have something in place by the fall semester.”

“It was something pretty popular with our students, well utilized. The suddenness of it was not the way we envisioned that transpiring,” Lux added.