100 Bird e-scooters soar into Charlottesville

The Bird scooters will join Lime’s 250 electric vehicles

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Bird's e-scooters have flown into Charlottesville. Courtesy City of Charlottesville

Bird, a California-based electric vehicle company, is bringing 100 of its scooters to the City of Charlottesville, the City announced in a press release Thursday. 

Charlottesville City officials approved Lime, another California-based electric scooter company, to bring the first dockless scooters to operate in the City Dec. 7. Although Lime initially planned to implement 100 e-scooters and 100 electric bicycles, there are currently 200 scooters and 50 bikes placed around Charlottesville. 

The City received a business license application for dockless bikes and scooters in August and a pilot program was presented to Charlottesville City councilors at the Nov. 5 City Council Meeting. To participate, companies must pay a $500 permit fee.

The pilot program, which councilors say will help City officials determine whether these types of ride-share programs will help the City in reaching its transportation goals, is slated to end in July, though the City manager is authorized to extend the program or terminate it.

Regulations have been put in place to protect the safety of pedestrians, ride-share users and other vehicles. The scooters are prohibited from riding on sidewalks and in the Downtown Mall. Scooters will automatically slow down in areas that are prohibited or pedestrian heavy via a geofencing technology.

University Dean of Students Allen Groves issued a University-wide email Nov. 15 regarding the scooter pilot program, which included safety recommendations from Gloria Graham, Associate Vice President for Safety and Security.  In the email, Groves said the University will monitor the effects of scooter use as student transportation around Grounds and “engage with students for input.”

Graham urged students to obey traffic laws and be mindful of pedestrians; refrain from riding, parking or charging scooters on sidewalks or in buildings; keep scooters out of residence halls — per University Housing policy — and park scooters in areas designated for U-bike parking.

The bikes and scooters are collected each evening for recharging and then distributed in the morning.

For Lime, unlocking a vehicle costs $1 and then an additional 15 cents per minute through the mobile app. Bird scooters are marginally more expensive, costing $1 to unlock and 20 cents per minute to use. Scooters are GPS- and 3G-enabled, which allows riders to locate the scooters on their smartphone.

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