Jul. 19—Springfield will see 55 shared electric scooters in the downtown area beginning today.
It is the result of a partnership with shared electric scooter company Bird Rides to provide the motorized devices. The company has been in talks with the city since late last year and scooters will be available for rent in downtown.
Customers will be able to access the scooters by using a mobile phone application, known as the Bird app. There will be a $1 charge to use the scooters and rides will be priced at $0.39 per minute, or about $25 an hour.
A shared use electric scooter is defined by the city as a device that weighs less than 150 pounds, has handle bars, an electric motor and two wheels, with one being in the front and the other being in the back.
There will be a boundary in which the scooters can be operated. That boundary is between East McCreight Avenue and West Pleasant Street as well as North Plum Street and East Street.
Scooters will be located on or near sidewalks and can be rented on the spot through the use of the app.
Bird Rides will start out with 55 scooters in the area.
However, Nathan Smith, who will be responsible for the scooter operation in Springfield, said that the plan is to gradually increase the number of scooters in the area.
But how many scooters will be available depends on several factors such as ridership, weather and if the boundary for those scooters expands outside of the downtown area.
Smith said he will be in charge of picking up scooters, charging them and making them available for use as well as providing maintenance. He added that he is starting out with a part-time staff of three people.
Smith said that he plans to set up some scooters near COhatch Springfield today and will be talking to potential riders about how to use the scooters.
Springfield officials said that Bird Ride's scooter operation in downtown will not cost the city money.
"It's our pleasure to welcome Bird scooters to the City of Springfield, and we look forward to the service they'll provide to our community," said Springfield Mayor Warren Copeland.
Representatives of Bird Rides said in a news release on Friday that their scooters will offer residents and visitors a transportation alternative that can help reduce carbon emissions as well as traffic congestion on roadways.
They said it also provides a method of transportation for those who don't have a car. The electric scooters can also be used on roads and in bike lanes and have a maximum speed of 15 mph.
"We're pleased to have another mode of transportation available to the public, particularly in an environmentally-friendly way," Copeland said.
Riders are required to be at least 18-years-old and scooters cannot block traffic, be parked in a way that blocks pedestrians or block driveways or entrances.
The city established rules and regulations for those type of scooters earlier this year.
As a result, any business that seeks to operate a shared electric scooter program within Springfield would have to first enter into an Electric Scooter Use agreement with the city.
Those rules also state that electric scooters, defined by the city, would not be allowed to be parked in transit zones, loading docks, parking zones or street curbs. However, customers are allowed to leave scooters on the curb of side walks.
Bird Rides will also offer a community pricing program that offers a 50% discount for low-income riders, Pell grant recipients, select local nonprofit and community organizations, veterans and senior citizens.
The company also offers free rides for healthcare workers and emergency personnel.
55 — number of shared electric scooters coming to downtown Springfield Monday
18 — minimum age to ride those scooters
$0.39 — amount per minute it cost to ride those scooters