Brighton residents will get to scoot around town on Bird Scooters, councilors agreed April 5, as soon as the city can decide just where the 15-miles-per-hour rentable electric vehicles will be allowed.
Public Works Director Michael Woodruff said his next job would be working with the company to create zones where the electric scooters can be ridden at their top speed, which areas where they will automatically slow down and where they’ll be banned from going.
“The Department of Public Works and the police department staff recommend the approval of this ordinance,” Woodruff said. “It clearly defines the rules, regulations and licensing of the devices in the city.”
Councilors approved using the scooters by a vote of 7-1 with Councilors Mary Ellen Pollack absent from the discussion. Pollack was the only councilor to speak out against the idea of allowing the scooters at the council’s March 8 meeting.
Councilor Jan Pawlowski cast the sold no vote at the April 5 meeting, saying she was not convinced they were a good fit for Brighton.
“My daughter and son in law are bikers, and when I was talking to them about this they were not very happy about it,” Pawlowski said.
She said they bike in places where there must share trails with the scooters.
“But they pass them and don’t yell out right or left when they pass and they scare bicyclists to death,” she said.
Woodruff said the scooter drivers would be expected to keep the the right around bicycles and to yield the right of way.
“But that said, it is a little hard to govern rider or driver behavior in the ordinance,” Woodruff said. “the company generally does a decent job of educating riders, but you are always going to have those out there, just like an automobile, that fail to obey the law.”
City Councilors first discussed the idea at their March 8 meeting, with most agreeing that the scooters could be welcome on Brighton’s streets.
Bird provides two-wheeled electric scooters people can rent for $1 or more per minute via an app on their smartphones, and the company estimates the average ride costs about $5. The scooters can reach speeds of up to 15 miles per hour and about 30 miles — roughly two days’ worth of service — on a standard electrical charge. Each scooter is equipped with brakes, front and rear LED lights and each weighs about 45 pounds.
Riders activate the scooters via an app on their phone and then can use them to ride as long as they choose. When they are done, they park the scooters, take a picture with the app on their phone and leave the scooters. The vehicle then waits for the next rider or is moved, recharged or repaired by Bird’s designated Fleet Managers.
Bird current offers its services in Denver, Aurora, Littleton and Arvada in the Metro Denver area. It offered its services in Fort Collins until last spring, when the city brought in a different e-bike and e-scooter program called Spin.
The company will likely deploy between 100 and 150 bird scooters in neighborhoods the city would approve, providing two local employees to keep track of the fleet. The company’s plan call for having Brighton online with the scooters by July.
The City will develop zones throughout Brighton that dictate how the GPS-enabled scooters operate, Woodruff said. Upon entering a designated “slow” zone, the scooter would make a noise to warn the driver and then slow down. Upon entering a designated “no-ride” zone, the scooter would beep and then come to a slow stop. Drivers would be directed to a parking zone where they could leave their rented scooter and would have to provide picture proof showing that their scooter has been parked upright and properly before the app would consider their ride complete and stop charging them.
The scooters would be regulated like bicycles and could be used on roads, paths and in bike lanes. Scooters must be parked out of the way of pedestrians and may not block driveways. Riders are required to be at least 18 years of age but won’t be required to wear a helmet.
According to the city’s ordinance, Bird will pay the city a $500 fee to license each scooter and then $200 per year to renew each license. The company will also pay a fee of 20 cents per ride.
A staff of two local Bird employees will work to keep track of the fleet, maintaining them and moving them when they have been parked improperly. Woodruff said the city reserves the right to collect and move the scooters if the Bird staff does not act quickly enough and will charge the company an additional $100 each time that happens.