Local

As quickly as they arrived, electric scooters in Chapel Hill are gone. Will they return?

Electric Bird scooters have arrived in downtown Raleigh, Cameron Village and Oberlin

Deas Fenderson of Bird scooters gives a quick tutorial on how to use the dockless, electric scooters in downtown Raleigh
Up Next
Deas Fenderson of Bird scooters gives a quick tutorial on how to use the dockless, electric scooters in downtown Raleigh

If you blinked, you might have missed them.

The frequently debated scooters that began popping up around Chapel Hill and the UNC campus Thursday were rounded up over the weekend. Now, they’re gone.

Bird, the California company that owns the scooters, agreed to “voluntarily remove its scooters from UNC-Chapel Hill while the university explores the possibility of a partnership with the company,” according to a statement from the university.

An agreement could be in place by the end of September, but public safety and “financial considerations” would be part of that discussion.

People are able to use an app to locate and “unlock” the scooters. It costs $1 per ride, then 15 cents for each mile (though some are reporting the price was 20 cents per mile in Chapel Hill).

If people open the app now, no scooters can be found in Chapel Hill and there’s a purple banner that reads “bring Bird back to Chapel Hill.” Once you click on the banner, a new screen pops up that says the company is taking a short break, “but with your help, we will be back soon.” People are then encouraged to call or email to tell the company how Bird has improved their lives.

The scooters, which can reach speeds of 15 miles per hour, are meant to be ridden in the streets, with a helmet, then parked out of people’s way.

“Bird is working with UNC-Chapel Hill so that university students and staff can have access to our affordable, environmentally friendly transportation option,” according to a statement from the company. “The UNC community has already embraced our last mile solution as a way to more easily get around campus and access local businesses in the area, and we are encouraged by their support of our service.”

Bird didn’t coordinate with the town of Chapel Hill or the campus before bringing about 100 scooters to the area. It’s a strategy the company is known for.

The scooter company also didn’t coordinate with the cities of Raleigh and Charlotte when it brought scooters to those areas this summer. The Raleigh City Council gave the company 60 days to comply with rules the city is still trying to create.

The scooter arrival in Chapel Hill was part of the company’s six-week “university pop-up tour.” It was unclear whether the scooters would be there for the full six weeks or stay after the tour.

“Whether it’s making it to a class on time, clocking in for work or simply getting to campus from the nearest public transit stop, Bird will help eliminate transportation gaps so students and faculty can focus on what really matters: education,” Travis VanderZanden, CEO and founder of Bird, said in a press release.







Related stories from Raleigh News & Observer

  Comments