Bird e-scooters land in Bay City and make a big splash

Like a flock of seagulls, electric scooters seem to be everywhere people gather downtown.

About 200 electric scooters, called Bird eScooters, landed in Bay City in early July providing an alternative and fun means of transportation.

Crews track the scooters and pick them up at the end of the day. From there, the scooters go to a warehouse where they are repaired and recharged to be distributed again for another day of riders.Michael Mulligan is one of two Bird Fleet Managers in Bay City, maintaining 115 of the 190 scooters.

“We were looking at buying our own electric scooters to ride around our neighborhood,” he said, and decided to reach out to Bird at about the same time the City of Bay City was considering bringing in the e-scooters.

In the end, the city partnered with Bird Co. and the eco-friendly scooters started roosting in the city on July 4. They’re available in what are known as Bird’s nests – clusters of scooters parked at various places.

Getting access to a ride is fairly simple, Mulligan says. Simply scan the QR code on the scooter, which brings up the Bird App where you can set up your account. You add funds to your account, and then choose the package you want to purchase. A ride costs 39 cents a minute.

Bird Fleet Manager Michael Mulligan says the scooters are for more than fun. He’s seen people use them to commute to work.Scooters run at speeds up to 15 miles per hour, and can be used in bike lanes and on city streets. Mulligan says a geo-fence lets riders take the scooters from Wilder Road to James Clements Airport and between Euclid Avenue and the east city limits. Within the city there are a few “no-fly-zones,” where the scooters cannot be used, and those can be found within the app.

He says Birds don’t need to be returned to their nests. Instead, his team has a tracking system to pick them up from wherever they are parked.

Before you hop aboard a scooter and start flying around the city, Mulligan says there are a few things to keep in mind.
  • Bird Scooters are not allowed on city sidewalks. Use bike lanes or road rights-of-way.
  • Lock the Bird when you go into a restaurant or retailer – “You don’t want to leave it in ‘ride’ mode.” If Mulligan’s team finds unlocked scooters that have been inactive for a length of time, they will lock them.
  • The battery will last anywhere from 1 ½ to 2 hours, and there is a meter to let you know how much power is left.
  • When your package runs out, the scooter will stop no matter where you are, even if there is battery life left.
  • Crews can see where you’ve been and how long you ride. “We can see pretty much everything.”
Loading funds to the Bird App unlocks the scooters. You can search for the app or scan the QR code on the scooters.Scooters are popular among young people, but Mulligan says they’re great for anyone of any age. The city requires that operators be at least 18 to ride, and there is only one person allowed per Bird.

So far, they appear popular for navigating the city’s social districts and festivals. But the scooters can serve a more serious purpose. Mulligan says he has seen people use them to commute for work. If you want to do that, there are options for reserving a Bird to use on a regular basis.

Birds are available every day from 4 a.m. to about midnight, but Mulligan says they don’t automatically shut off when the clock strikes 12. He just asks that people are safe and respectful. He adds that riding after dark can pose its own safety issues.

At the end of the day, the Birds are picked up and taken to a warehouse where they’re repaired and recharged, then relocated to start another day.

So far, the feedback Mulligan has received is all positive. He says in the app there is a place to leave comments after a ride, and “a lot of people are having a lot of fun on them.”

That’s exactly what he hoped to see. “We want people to have the best experience they can,” he says.

The Bird app can be found in both the Apple App Store and on Google Play. For questions, special promotions, and more information check the Fleet on the Street Facebook page.

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