Pilot program would bring Bird e-scooters to Manchester

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Jul. 5—A pilot proposal to bring e-scooters to Manchester is scheduled to go before city aldermen Tuesday night.

Manchester Mayor Joyce Craig will pitch the pilot program with Bird Scooters to members of the aldermanic Committee on Public Safety, Health and Traffic Tuesday at 6 p.m. If committee members back the idea, the proposal will likely head to the full board for a vote the same night.

In March 2020, a team of city officials met with representatives at Zagster to bring e-scooters into Manchester, but the company's bike share system was one of many amenities hit hard by the pandemic.

The system, which launched in 2017 with rental stations around the Queen City, proved popular with more than 1,500 rides reported in 2018.

In May of 2020, city officials received an email from Zagster reporting the company would no longer provide bike share services in Manchester.

Bikes and stations were gone by mid-June.

According to Craig, in January city officials began conversations with multiple city departments involved including the police and highway departments, the mayor's office and city solicitor's office.

Following those conversations, the city is proposing a pilot program of up to 50 eclectic scooters, which would be available to rent from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m.

"It's an exciting opportunity here in the city," said Craig. "We've been talking with Bird for several months, working through some concerns on the city side, and we're thrilled everyone's on the same page."

According to information on the pilot program provided to city aldermen, the e-scooters would fall under local regulations applying to bicycles, and permitted for use on designated streets, and in bike lanes or bike paths where available — not on sidewalks.

City officials reserve the right to prohibit parking or riding in certain areas like construction zones, road races and public events.

Bird will employ a fleet manager, who will go out and put scooters at locations each morning. The company will then gather data on usage, and deploy scooters to areas of the city where most needed.

"This is another program where we heard feedback from the community, especially from the Millyard," said Craig. "A lot of the people working in Millyard were really advocating for this. I think that what we'll see is — at least at first — is a lot of these being used from the Millyard to downtown and back as a quick way to get from here to there."

The electric scooters can be used on roads and in bike lanes and have a maximum speed of 15mph. Scooters must be parked out of the way of pedestrians and never blocking driveways. Riders are required to be 18 years-old or older to access the scooters. They are also encouraged to wear a helmet on every ride and required to obey all standard rules of the road. Users looking to rent the scooters can install the Bird app, where the locations of available scooters are displayed.

Before starting, the user supplies payment information, scans the QR code on the scooter, and begins the trip. To end the trip, the user must take a photo of the parked scooter. The price of the trip is immediately withdrawn from the user's credit card.

Bird has deployed e-scooters in Nashua since launching a program in the Gate City back in May. There are 125 scooters available for rent from 5 a.m. to midnight in Nashua.

Founded in September 2017, Bird operates shared electric scooters in more than 100 cities in North America, Europe and the Middle East with 10 million rides in its first year of operation. The company was founded and is run by Travis VanderZanden, formerly an executive at Lyft and Uber. Notably it became the fastest startup to ever reach $1 billion in valuation.

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