Here’s what downtown Raleigh residents and workers think of those electric scooters

Nearly 70 percent of people who live or work in downtown Raleigh are in favor of electric scooters, but most also want local rules for the latest transportation trend, according to a new survey.

Downtown Living Advocates, a citizen group focused on issues that affect downtown Raleigh residents, released the results of a survey asking people who live, work and visit downtown what they think about the scooters.

“We were overwhelmed,” Jim Belt, co-founder of Downtown Living Advocates, said of the survey. “We never had a response this quick.”

The electric scooters from California-based company Bird appeared on the streets of downtown Raleigh during the summer, spurring mixed reactions from city leaders and the public. The scooters top out at speeds of 15 mph and are meant to be ridden in the streets or bike lanes and used with a helmet. Riders can use an app to unlock the scooters, and it costs $1 per ride plus 15 cents per minute. When riders are done, the scooters should be parked out of the way on the sidewalk, not blocking the pedestrian path.

People are interested in the Bird scooters because they appeared overnight without any warning, Belt said.

“It’s just so unusual to have something not announced and just happen and you notice it,” he said. “And everyone started having opinions on them.”

Bird electric scooters are now in downtown Raleigh. Juli Leonard jleonard@newsobserver.com

In all, nearly 1,800 people were surveyed, with a majority living or working in downtown Raleigh. Here are snapshots from the survey results:

  • 69 percent of respondents were favorable or very favorable of the scooters, while 11 percent were neutral and 20 percent were unfavorable or very unfavorable.

  • 60 percent of respondents have ridden a scooter, with 72 percent reporting a more favorable opinion of the scooters after riding them. People who have ridden them several times have a more positive view of the scooters.
  • 88 percent of the 1,381 respondents with favorable or neutral opinions of scooters thought they improved the connectivity between downtown and surrounding neighborhoods; 79 percent liked that the scooters offered an “emission-free transportation alternative.” Nearly 80 percent of that same group said the scooters were fun, and 75 percent said they added to Raleigh’s “cool” factor.

Only 5 percent of survey takers wanted the city to outright ban the scooters. They cited challenges for pedestrians on sidewalks, irresponsible riders leaving the scooters in the wrong places and a “general feeling that they are unsafe.”

Bird didn’t coordinate with the city to launch in Raleigh and is known for appearing without warning or permission in cities throughout the country. Raleigh leaders asked the city’s transportation department to come up with rules to regulate the scooters and then said the scooters have to comply with those regulations within 60 days or face being banned.

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