If you’ve been downtown recently, you’ve surely noticed the sleek, black Bird scooters and their joyful riders zipping around you. The scooters arrived seemingly out of nowhere this summer, and they’re the latest offering in the city’s growing portfolio of vehicle sharing options. But the 150 dockless scooters came as a total surprise to Raleigh officials, who say they never administered permits for the Birds to make their homes on our downtown streets and sidewalks.
According to John Boyette, a spokesman for the City of Raleigh’s communications department, city staff and Bird representatives are working together to ensure that Bird’s operations are consistent with city ordinances and state laws. They hope to incorporate the scooters in the safest way possible.
Bird says its scooters are well-suited for use in Raleigh’s downtown grid and in other easily accessible areas on downtown’s periphery, perfect for riders who want to get to destinations that may be a bit too far to walk to but are too close for driving. The scooters provide a fun way to get around, the company posits, and are great for skirting car traffic congestion.
If the scooters end up staying in Raleigh, riders will have to use them on the street or in bike lanes rather than on the sidewalk (which many users have already been doing). With speeds of up to 15 mph, Birds cost a dollar to start each ride and 15 cents per minute thereafter. Be aware, however, that the scooters lock after 9 p.m., completely shutting off. As an addition to safety, active Bird riders can qualify for a free helmet after their first ride, responsible only for the shipping payment. It’s not yet clear whether they’ll become a permanent fixture on Raleigh streets, so until there’s a definitive answer, it looks like these Birds shall remain flightless—that is, they’re here to stay for awhile.