INVASION OF THE BIRDS: Vicksburg signs agreement with Bird scooters

Published 3:21 pm Friday, February 25, 2022

It’s official; scooters are returning to Vicksburg.

The Board of Mayor and Aldermen on Friday approved a shared mobility device license with Bird Rides Inc. of Los Angeles, Calif., clearing the way for the company to operate electric scooters in the city. No date has been set for the company to begin the service.

The board’s decision marks the second time it has approved an agreement allowing scooters in the city. The board in 2020 approved an agreement with Blue Duck Express of San Antonio, Texas, to bring electric scooters to the city’s downtown district and got a bill passed in the 2020 Legislature allowing the board to adopt an ordinance governing the use of motorized scooters.

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After a good beginning, Blue Duck was forced to pull out of the city when a drop in activity made the venture unprofitable.

Under the agreement with Bird, the company will provide 75 electric scooters in the city that will operate at a top speed of 15 mph. All of the scooters will be equipped with a unique identifier and GPS or other software technology to track and manage the fleet’s operations.

Under the agreement, the company assumes all liability and agrees that the city is not responsible for providing security at any location where Bird’s electric scooters may be stored or located. Bird also waives any claim against the city if any of its electric scooters or other property are lost or damaged, under the agreement.

City Attorney Kim Nailor said the company’s operating area will be the same as the Blue Duck scooters, which raised some concerns by South Ward Alderman Alex Monsour, who said the Blue Duck scooter operation in the area of the Catfish Row Art Park and the splash pad created problems.

“They (the scooters) ran over the electronic device that controls the water flow (of the splash pad) and we had to replace it twice,” Monsour said.

Nailor said she would talk with Bird representatives about keeping the scooters away from the park.

According to information provided to the city by Bird in January, the company has scooter and rental bicycle programs on five continents and in 25 countries and 300 cities, including Memphis, Tenn.; Brewton, Ala., and Fort Walton Beach, Fla.

Bird uses a mobile phone app to help riders locate scooters and use them. Riders are charged by the minute through the app.

“Bird has successfully implemented shared e-mobility systems in more than 350 cities,” a company spokesperson said at the time. “We plan to apply these learned experiences to a program tailored for Vicksburg.”

About John Surratt

John Surratt is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a degree in general studies. He has worked as an editor, reporter and photographer for newspapers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post staff since 2011 and covers city government. He and his wife attend St. Paul Catholic Church and he is a member of the Port City Kiwanis Club.

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