Scooters dropped in Peoria by Bird

By: 
DARRELL JACKSON, Staff Writer

Photo by Darrell Jackson
Bird e-scooters, which arrived in Peoria in early October, are available for people to ride by purchasing time through the app on a smart phone.

Peoria has recently been inundated with Birds, but not the kind that are in the sky, and questions abound if Glendale could be next.

Bird scooters started showing up on sidewalks throughout Peoria in early October, giving residents and visitors a new option to get around town.

While it is unknown the exact number of scooters Bird dropped off in Peoria, the company allows visitors to rent electric scooters anywhere using a smartphone.

The scooters are dropped off around the city at 7 a.m. and are available until 8 p.m. when they are picked up and charged each night.

Users must download the Bird app to their phone and use it to locate a scooter and rent it. When they’re done, they simply lock the scooter and leave it for the next rider wherever they end up.

Riders are charged $1 initially, plus 14 cents per minute and the scooters can go up to 15 mph. A scooter goes for about 15 miles on each charge, and is for short trips.

They are dock-less, which means riders do not have to find a spot to park them, and riders are supposed to leave them along the sidewalks where their trips end.

Glendale City Manager Kevin Phelps said Bird has not inquired about going to Glendale, yet, but he would not be opposed to the scooters showing up within city limits.

“I was in Baltimore recently and they were all over the place,” Phelps said. “We don’t have an ordinance on them and I would have to see what they would propose, but I am the type of person that believes the more modes of travel, the better.”

Across the country, various cities have adopted e-scooter regulations based on fleet restrictions, which have set caps on the number of e-scooters anywhere from 150 to 3,000 per company, per city.

Peoria does not have an ordinance against the e-scooters and it was unknown if council would discuss one in the future, but, according to Glendale City Manager Kevin Phelps, the city is planning meetings with the company.

“At this time, we have a meeting set for next week with representatives from the company,” Peoria Strategic Support Officer Jay Davies said. “We look forward to discussing how to best balance innovative concepts like this one with concerns around public safety.”

The company website states “The sharing of bikes, e-bikes, e-scooters, and other short-range electric vehicles to solve the ‘last-mile’ problem is an important part of bike-sharing.”

Normally, Bird doesn’t forewarn officials that it’s about to drop hundreds of scooters onto streets. CEO and founder Travis VanderZanden said that’s by design. The company’s normal action is to reach out to city regulators at the same time it launches the scooters because, as VanderZanden said in a statement, “if you wait to talk to the city, sometimes it can take too long.”

In Peoria, the newest city in the state where the scooters are offered, city staff has been in contact with the company on how scooters can be placed and what can be done with them.

“The company must obey local ordinances when placing them out for rent, such as not placing them in a manner that blocks sidewalks,” Davies said. “Riders face greater restrictions, such as prohibitions on riding them on the sidewalk or on streets with speed limits greater than 30 mph. Nobody can ride them on any street between sundown and 8 a.m., or on any private property without the owner’s permission, and those under 18 must wear helmets when riding.”

After only a couple weeks the scooters have been available in Peoria, Davies said the city has received a few complaint calls from concerned residents.

“We have begun receiving calls from the public, primarily complaints of scooters blocking sidewalks or being abandoned in front of people’s homes,” Davies said.

The company website states the scooters are to be used in bike lanes and not on public sidewalks, with offers to cities to help increase the number of bike lanes.

VanderZanden states on the company website that he is, “sending out an S.O.S. to all companies in the scooter and bike-sharing space to Save Our Sidewalks; I am urging you to join Bird in taking the Save Our Sidewalks Pledge.’

That pledge includes donating $1 per scooter, per day to city governments so they can, “use the money to build more bike lanes, promote safe riding, and maintain our shared infrastructure.”

Now available in more than 69 cities across the country, including Mesa, Tempe and Scottsdale in Arizona, the company has been criticized for some controversial practices.

Many communities have taken legal action against Bird for violating city ordinances and not obtaining the proper permits,  such as a business license, which was done in Peoria.

“Their outreach was limited to obtaining a license to operate within the city,” Davies said.

The scooters are all attached with GPS, so when the manager picks them up, he knows exactly where they are.

Phelps added that he would love to see the scooters in Glendale in the future.

“They are great for the environment and I like the concept sometime in the future here,” Phelps said. “One main issue we would have to look at is if you are a business owner, would you want four or five piled up outside your shop? I am sure we will have to look at this in the near future.”

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Peoria Times

Peoria Times
7122 N. 59th Ave
Glendale, AZ 85301-2436
Ph: (623) 842-6000
Fax: (623) 842-6013

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