LARAMIE — Blue and silver electric scooters lining the sidewalks has become a common sight in Laramie over the past year.
The scooters belong to Bird, a Los Angeles-based company that provides transportation through a mobile app that works much the same way as Uber or Lyft. Customers download an app, add their payment information and use a map to locate a scooter. Each scooter is equipped with a QR code that users scan to start a ride.
Bird announced the landing of its local “fleet” of more than 150 scooters in Laramie last August.
Since then, riders have logged more than 25,000 miles zipping around town, said Bird spokesperson Lily Gordon.
Local residents and visitors use the scooters as an alternative mode of transportation when they don't have access to a car or simply want to go for a joyride.
“Bird is really convenient,” said Ryson Casupang, who used one of the scooters to get to Boba Café in downtown Laramie on Monday. “They go really fast. I was really surprised. There’s slow zones around the University of Wyoming so that’s a little less convenient.”
Casupang is one of dozens of young musicians in Laramie doing pre-season rehearsals with the Blue Devils Drum and Bugle Corps from Concord, California. Accompanied by about 10 of his bandmates, he said the scooters are a fun way to get around town that’s less expensive or comparable in price to Uber and Lyft.
The scooters cost $1 to unlock, then charge a rate of $0.44 a minute during the ride, according to the Bird app. There is a $3.50 minimum for each ride. Customers can pay for a monthly ride pass, which costs $4.99 and offers the first five minutes of each ride free.
The company also offers a community pricing program, which gives a 50-percent discount to low-income riders, veterans, senior citizens and select nonprofit and community groups.
Members of these groups can email proof of eligibility to [email protected] to sign up.
Another draw for Casupang and others to use the scooters is the element of sustainability, he said. This is also a major selling point for the company, which claims using electric scooters results in less carbon emissions than a traditional car.
“Providing riders in cities like Laramie with a fun and sustainable transportation option is core to our mission of reducing reliance on gas-powered vehicles,” Gordon said.
The sustainability aspect also is important to the Laramie City Council, which had the task of approving the company’s entrance to the city last year. In more than nine months of using Bird, 2.98 metric tons of carbon dioxide were saved through 14,016 scooter rides, according to Bird data shared by Laramie City Council member Brian Harrington.
“It’s a terrific program for that last bit (of) travel,” Harrington said. “I think it in a lot of ways helps the city reach our carbon goals.”
In addition to requiring that riders are at least 18 years old, the app encourages them to wear a helmet, avoiding riding on sidewalks and park their scooters responsibly.
Harrington said that while he’s not aware of any safety concerns from residents about the scooters, there has been concern about them being parked in front of residences for weeks on end.
The Bird system relies on local “fleet managers” who manage the scooters in a given area by charging them and organizing parking arrangements. These people are supposed to be managed to reduce the number of the electric conveyances seen lying down or blocking pathways, Harrington said.
He said he’s been in contact with the company, which is working to resolve the issue.
Anyone who would like to report a parking problem or any other issue with Bird scooters can do so by emailing the company’s customer support team at [email protected] co or calling 866-205-2442, Gordon said. People also can report issues by pressing the triangle icon in the bottom left corner of the Bird app.