EVERETT — Electric scooters are set to take flight across Everett again as soon as May.
The Everett City Council on Wednesday unanimously approved a year-long contract with Bird, a California-based company.
“Bird looks forward to working with the City of Everett to launch our environmentally friendly e-scooter program in the coming months,” a company spokesperson wrote in an email. “As tourism picks up, expanding to Everett, one of the most populous cities in Washington, was a natural fit.”
Everett first had electric scooters for rent from Lime during a three-month trial period in 2019.
But city leaders didn’t renew the program during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 or last year.
Now city leaders feel people know enough about proper hand hygiene to relaunch the program.
City leaders view the app-based company’s service as a “last-mile” transportation option for people to get from a bus stop to home, to work or out for dinner.
“We were always looking to bring them back if at all possible,” Everett spokesperson Julio Cortes said.
In that first pilot, there were over 28,000 rides by more than 8,000 users, a Lime spokesperson said in December 2019. The deal netted less than $4,000 for the city’s general fund, including city fees of 10 cents per ride.
Everett staff estimate similar ridership this year when between 75 and 300 Bird scooters are available. Revenue is expected to be higher because Bird’s contract spans a full year.
At first they’ll be set up around downtown Everett, but city staff asked Bird to place them across the city.
“We want to make sure they’re easily accessible to people,” Cortes said.
Bird educates riders on safety and how to use the scooters via its mobile app. Registered users in Everett can request a free helmet to be mailed by the company.
The scooters are supposed to be capped at 15 mph, according to the contract. Bird recently debuted “warm up mode” that has slower acceleration.
They must be parked in the “furniture zone” on sidewalks, which leaves enough space for people to still navigate the sidewalk. Everett doesn’t plan to have marked areas for them but could do so in the future, Cortes said.
Bird scooters can’t go in Everpark Plaza at 2815 Hoyt Ave. or Wetmore Theatre Plaza at 2710 Wetmore Ave., or on the Interurban Trail, according to the contract. Scooters left in improper places can be reported to the company via its app.
The company also is working on technology that would keep scooters from operating on sidewalks, which is illegal in downtown Everett. Instead, they’re supposed to go on streets, but only ones with speed limits 25 mph or lower.
Everett can review Bird’s data, such as the number of customer complaints, the nature of complaints, number of reported injuries and use data.
Similar to Lime, Bird will contract with businesses and people to maintain, charge and set out the scooters.
Bird is offering a 50% discount to income-eligible riders, some non-profit groups, veterans and senior citizens.
Health care workers involved in pandemic response can get two free 30-minute rides per day through the pandemic. They can sign up by emailing a copy of their medical identification card along with their name and phone number to email@example.com.
Ben Watanabe: firstname.lastname@example.org; 425-339-3037; Twitter @benwatanabe.
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