GREENSBORO, NC -- The two-wheeled transportation craze has made it's way to the Gate City. Dockless, electric, sharable scooters appeared downtown seemingly overnight. The California-based company Bird dropped off their scooters leaving the city to decide how to handle it.
Right now there isn't a city ordinance that allows or governs the scooters. So technically, they're not allowed. The city says they're working on it. See the full statement below.
Part of what makes downtown Greensboro so much fun is all of the new modes of transportation available. We currently have LimeBikes, Brew Peddlers, Greensboro Rickshaw, Caddie and now Bird scooters. Our number one concern though with all of these is safety. Currently the scooters are not allowed on downtown sidewalks and city streets, but we have multiple departments reviewing the existing ordinance in an effort to update it to accommodate all of these, including scooters.
And this isn't the first time that Greensboro has had to change this ordinance to keep up with new transportation technology. A city spokesperson told me the city had to rework the same law back in the 90's when rollerblading became popular. Then came skateboards and segways and yes, you guessed it, more changes to the ordinance.
So if they're not allowed, why are they here? Bird says they work with cities and believes their scooters can work in any location. The company began as a way to "reduce the number of cars on the road to help reduce traffic congestion and carbon emissions with our affordable, environmentally friendly transportation option."
But they're also aware of possible hiccups in the program. Including safety risks, overcrowding and blocking sidewalks and walkways.
The scooters go up to 15 miles per hour. Riders must be older than 18 and need a valid driver's license to operate the scooter. Helmets are required and Bird says they'll send you one for free as long as you pay the $1.99 shipping cost. So far the company says they've given out 40,000 helmets.
To address the other concerns Bird says it has an "SOS Pledge," or Save Our Sidewalks. The first part of the pledge says Bird employees will pick up all of the scooters every night so they don't clutter neighborhoods. The second part promises responsible growth meaning Bird won't drop off more scooters than a city can use and they'll pick up scooters if there seems to be a surplus. Finally, Bird says they'll give $1 per scooter to the city each day so they can use the money to build bike lanes, promote safe riding and maintain shared infrastructure.
To use a Bird you first need to download the app. It will show you where the scooters are around the city. Then you'll need to scan the QR Code on the scooter, scan your driver's license, put in a payment method and you're ready to ride. It's $1 to start the scooter and 15 cents per minute.