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Bismarck and Bird Inc. officials work together to encourage safe e-scooter riding

Bird scooter
Bird scooter(KFYR-TV)
Updated: May. 6, 2021 at 10:31 PM CDT
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BISMARCK, N.D. (KFYR) - Bird electric scooters have landed in Bismarck. The capital city is the first in North Dakota to test out the fleet, and many people are wondering how they work and whether they are safe.

The scooters go up to 15 miles per hour and are meant to be driven along the road. Bird says they hope they will give Bismarck a fun and efficient way to get around.

When the fleet landed in Bismarck last week, many people were eager to try them.

“I think that would be a really cool thing to get going through the city, get people outside,” said Bismarck resident Linnette Miner.

The Birds cost $1 to start and each minute after is 39 cents.

To operate a scooter, first download the app, then sign a waiver and you are ready to ride. As the user, you are responsible for riding safely.

So far, Bismarck riders say they feel safe zipping along.

“As long as you are responsible and take responsibility for the scooter and take responsibility for the liabilities there shouldn’t be any safety concerns... and, you know, ride sober,” said Bismarck resident Sierra Buzalsky.

In recent years officials across the country have struggled to regulate electric scooters. California adopted laws to criminalize scooters blocking pedestrian traffic and Pennsylvania and Delaware ban scooters on streets.

Bird and city officials are working to make sure rules are followed in Bismarck.

“We came to a negotiated agreement where we can still provide this service to the community for those who want to use it, but still have some safety barriers up to say we really don’t want you driving on a really fast road when these scooters can only go 15 miles per hour,” said city engineer Gabe Schell.

The scooters will only operate in downtown areas and will slow and stop if someone tries to ride outside the boundaries or on certain roadways.

According to the updated ordinance, riders must ride in a bike lane or along the right side of the street, following all the regular rules of the road and scooters must be ridden on the street and not the sidewalk in the downtown area. 

Still, electric scooters come with risk. A CDC study says for every 100,000 trips, 20 result in injury with over half sustaining head injuries. In the same study, only 1 percent of riders reported wearing a helmet. 

Your News Leader reached out to Bird about the risk for injury and Bird said helmets are available for free on their website at Bird Rides – Bird Helmets (myshopify.com).

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