The Birds are back in town: Dockless scooter company returns

Bird scooters returned to Richmond on Tuesday after a yearlong hiatus. CT file photo

Andrew Ringle, Managing Editor

Bird’s electric scooters returned to Richmond on Tuesday after a yearlong hiatus that started with the city’s removal of the unpermitted vehicles last fall.

The company announced the return of its dockless rides in an email sent to employees — the “chargers” who collect the scooters, charge them at home and then return them to the sidewalks — and in a news release Tuesday morning.

“We look forward to serving the micromobility needs of the residents and visitors of Richmond to connect more deeply with the city,” said Bird’s director of safety, Paul White, in the release.

White said the company wants to help people safely replace their car trips with “a more sustainable and efficient option.”

After Bird dropped hundreds of scooters unannounced in Richmond last year, Mayor Levar Stoney responded by creating an ordinance that would require scooter companies to pay the city a fee for a license to distribute. The proposal, which was approved by City Council in January, includes a fee ranging from $20,000 to $45,000.

Scooters are a “final mile” solution that can fill gaps in the city’s current transportation network, the mayor said in a news release.

“We wish Bird success on its official launch, and are grateful to provide yet one more transportation option that makes it easier and more enjoyable to live work and play in our city,” Stoney said.

Lynne Lancaster of the city’s Department of Public Works told Richmond BizSense that Bird will start with 150 scooters before eventually growing the fleet to 500.

Bolt Mobility was the only electric scooter company to foot the city’s fee for distribution before Bird’s return. The new competitor shared a few tips on etiquette in the news release:

  • Ride near the middle of bike and car lanes, especially if the lane isn’t wide enough for both a car and a scooter to move side by side.
  • Riders should listen to the sounds around them, and avoid taking selfies or listening to music.
  • Learn how to do the “box turn”: First, go to the far corner of the intersection and stop. Then, pivot left and wait for the green light.
  • Go with the flow of traffic and yield to pedestrians.
  • Don’t block public pathways when parking, and park near bike racks when possible.

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