A new form of transportation has hit Georgia State’s campus

Photo by Vanessa Johnson | The Signal

There is a new form of transportation sparking interest and questions in Atlanta and other major cities. Bird Electric Scooters are a new form of transportation that have hit the city. Atlanta is the first city in the southeast that the company has brought their scooters to. The scooters can be found in downtown Atlanta, Midtown, Tech Square and the West End.

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Bird is an electric vehicle sharing company which plans on bringing low-cost and environmentally friendly transportation to neighborhoods. Travis VanderZanden founded the company in the fall of 2017 with the intent to have another affordable way to get around but the scooters were not introduced to Atlanta until May 3. To operate the scooters, there is a $1 flat fee plus $0.15 for every minute ridden. Rides are only available during the daytime, and the company states that each night the scooters are put up in storage and brought back to the same spots to keep the scooters safe and out of pathways.

The company states that helmets are provided for customers with each operated scooter, and so far 22 helmets have been given out. Any rider over the age of 18 is required to upload a valid driver’s licence and consent to a safety agreement. Bird shows an in-app tutorial on how to safely ride and posts safety instructions on all scooters.   

A Bird spokesperson said Atlanta has been receptive of the new scooters.

“Atlanta has really embraced Bird. We chose to land here because it’s a growing and thriving city that recognizes the need for an equitable and reliable transit system. Our environmentally friendly transportation solution has helped the people of Atlanta get where they need to go, while getting them out of cars, reducing traffic and cutting carbon emissions,” the spokesperson said.

The Bird company has a Save Our Sidewalks (SOS) pledge. The pledge initiative was created to establish daily pickups for the scooters so the streets are not clustered. According to Bird, the number of vehicles in the city will not be increased and the unused vehicles will be removed from rotation to not clutter neighborhoods. The company also states that if Birds are not ridden at least three times per day, then the company does not add additional vehicles.

The company said they will share data with the city so they can verify the use of scooters. It has not been clear yet whether data has been shared between the company and the government as of now. Bird was not available for comment on how this data plans to be shared and the city has not been responsive on the subject.

Bird states that they will be giving away profits per vehicle per day to governments of each city they are located in so that the money can be used to build more bike lanes, promote safe riding and maintain infrastructures.

On their SOS pledge, Bird Scooters states they are helping the growing population of Atlanta and cities like it.

While the Bird Scooters are relatively new around Atlanta, they have already been banned on the BeltLine, though that doesn’t seem to be stopping residents from taking a ride down it. There has been no official ban on the scooters anywhere else in the city.

Georgia State Police Department Officer Eric Aguiar said, “There are currently no laws regulating the scooters at this time.”

Aguiar did his own research to prepare himself for the interview and to see if there were any laws in Georgia pertaining to scooter usage. He said he could find no exact laws that pertained to the scooters but predicts that one day there will be soon.

“There are no definite rules on the scooters as of yet, but I can foresee in the future it will be, but there is not any possible way to tell when laws will be made because we do not know how long the scooters will last.

“There should be rules regulating the scooters because they can be classified as motor vehicles and you should have safety on all motor vehicles,” said Aguiar. As of now there have been no incident reports on campus regarding the scooters, but as the fall semester starts back up and more students return to campus, campus rules on the scooters may be created.

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