Bird Scooter

Bird Electric Scooters Arrive in Cary

Cary, NC – If you’ve been to any nearby colleges or large urban areas, you have likely seen the various brands of rentable electric scooters either in use or laying in wait. Now one of these scooter brands is in Cary and town staff are waiting to see how they should be regulated.

Scooter-Sharing in Cary

Bird is one of several electric scooter-sharing companies operating in the Triangle, with LimeBike the next most prominent company here with both electric scooters and traditional pedal bicycles. These are two wheel scooters powered by an electric motor that people can pay to rent or “unlock” on their phone, ride, then relock and leave. Then a new person comes, unlocks the scooter and the cycle continues. Scooters are collected at night by employees, recharged and then returned.

Bird scooters appeared in Cary a few weeks ago and so far have mostly only been seen in Downtown Cary, though some have also been spotted around the intersection of SW Maynard Road and Kildaire Farm Road.

Deanna Hawkes, Cary’s Deputy Public Information Officer, said the town was not notified before Bird left scooters around Downtown Cary. Currently, she said the town is not working on regulations or ordinances for Bird.

“We’re in the process of learning from the experiences of our neighbors, trying to understand gaps in our state laws and/or ordinances and considering options to meet the needs of our citizens while also protecting their safety,” Hawkes said.

Raleigh and Durham are both looking into regulations on not just Bird but all electric scooter-sharing companies. These include limiting the number of scooters each company can leave in the city (Raleigh is considering a limit of 500 scooters per company, capped at 1,500 scooters total), set times when companies must collect and recharge scooters, regulations that make it clear scooters must be off of sidewalks and riders must wear helmets just like ordinances for bicycles and more.

Several accidents involving electric scooters have been reported in Raleigh but Cary Police Records Supervisor Ken Davis said no such accidents have been reported with Bird in Cary.

Bird Scooter

 

A Test Ride

To know more about Bird, the only option was to ride one. So I took a test ride of a Bird scooter back and forth through Downtown Cary. It’s $1 to unlock but another 15 cents for each minute you ride, so a half hour ride equals about $6. That feels like a price you would pay for convenience rather than strict practicality. It also seems to make Bird more of a ride for commuting and getting to work or appointments than for something to ride for fun.

The ride itself is very smooth. Both the wheels and the foot pad are thick and wide enough that I never felt like I might tip over by accident, but I wouldn’t want to test this out by ducking and weaving through a more crowded street or dart around obstructions.

As far as speed, in my ride, I got to a brisk running pace. It seems like bicycles can go faster than a Bird scooter but I wasn’t going down any significant hills and frankly I wasn’t trying to see how fast I could possibly go.

Similar to speed being manageable, the break pump worked well also and let me reduce my velocity safely, though I still found myself using my feet to slow myself down out of habit.

All in all, it was a good ride. If you need to get around Downtown Cary and want to avoid driving up and down Chatham Street, it’s a practical alternative. But that does illuminate the one point I noticed most about these scooters: they only seem practical, in Cary, for downtown. Most of the town is linked by roads that are too busy or fast-paced for Bird scooters to be ridden safely, I would think. While you do see Bird and LimeBike in and around college campuses as well as dense urban areas in the Triangle, the schools in Cary don’t seem big enough to necessitate these scooters, although it may make sense on Wake Tech campuses and it’s possible the scooters have already turned up there. These scooters would ride well on paved greenways but that will also depend on if there are enough chargers and collectors in Cary to go out and find them.

Bird Scooter

 


Story and photos by Michael Papich.

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7 replies
  1. Len Nieman
    Len Nieman says:

    “…regulations that make it clear scooters must be off of sidewalks and riders must wear helmets just like ordinances for bicycles and more.”

    While you’re at it, how about including bicycle riders 16 and over stay off the sidewalks too? I’m a regular GoCary rider, which means I also spend a lot of time walking to and from the bus stops. At least once a month, sometimes more often, I’m bumped from behind by an adult on a bike on the sidewalk that didn’t have the courtesy to call out or ring a bell. At least once a year I get knocked down, which at my age I don’t need. Surprisingly, the young kids almost alway ring a bell or blow a horn to let you know they’re coming. And we definately don’t need scooters on the sidewalks adding to pedestian risks.

    Reply
  2. Owen Evans
    Owen Evans says:

    Agreed they are a perfect way for getting around downtown Cary. As a frequent bus rider who also frequently finds himself at the Art Center for this or that, the scooters are a perfect fit for this sort of trip. The way the street is set up and the speeds that cars travel up and down Academy are such that I feel perfectly safe riding a Bird in the street there.

    The only reason they don’t feel safe or appropriate outside downtown is that in spite of all the talk, Cary’s bike infrastructure is poor. I would love to see bike lanes radiating in all directions from downtown. The distance from Downtown to Maynard (1 mile) is a bit far to walk, but a perfect distance for a bike or one of these scooters. There’s lots of stuff in Cary within that range of downtown, but the infrastructure just isn’t there.

    We have great greenways, but those are conceived as recreational facilities with meandering pathways connecting between parks and lakes rather than the places where people live, work, and shop. And letting motorized scooters on greenways has been controversial in some places.

    Cary went big with the “Sharrows” a few years ago but those things are USELESS. If a major car wreck happens, it serves as a “wake up call” and makes the town get serious about changing the infrastructure to prevent further tragedies (see examples: Cary Parkway @ W Chatham, Green Level Church @ Cary Glen) but I must have missed the part where anybody “woke up” after the “wake up call” that Ms. Cove’s well-publicized incident on High House Road should have been two years ago. It’s as if people are only valued if they’re in a car.

    I really wish y’all would be more aggressive with actual bike lanes – even cycletracks. Take for example places like Walnut and Kildaire between downtown and Maynard. In both cases, a few years back, the town did a road diet, going from four to three lanes, and there was plenty of space for bike lanes, but no. Instead of that, we get … wider lanes for cars, and MORE SHARROWS! WTF.

    While we’re at it, there are a bunch of other places this should be done, too. Lose the on street parking on E Chatham from Walker to the Roundabout – those spaces are completely pointless and always empty! Put in bike lanes instead. Do a road diet on W Chatham from Harrison to the roundabout and add bike lanes there too. I bet a road diet on Harrison between Chatham and Maynard would even be workable. AADT is between 13000-15000 vpd, which a three lane facility can handle. None of this is expensive. We’re talking PAINT here.

    Reply
    • Lindsey Chester
      Lindsey Chester says:

      I think you make a lot of great points. How about attending a town council meeting (there’ one tomorrow) and speak at Public Speaks Out. The Bird Scotters were just recently banned in Greensboro while their government looks into how to best regulate them.
      I think our council would be glad to hear from you on this matter.

      Reply

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