Tooling around town on scooters may become the latest craze for public transportation in St. Albans.
Manufactured by Bird Rides, the electrically powered, pay-to-ride scooters were introduced in the city recently and have quickly — and literally — taken off among the populace.
“The company contacted me and asked me if we’d be interested in having some Bird Rides electric scooters in our town,” Mayor Scott James said last week. “I did some research and saw they were successful in bigger cities. I asked if they’d be successful in a town our size, and they assured me they would be.
“Martinsburg was ahead of us on this,” James added, “and I called the mayor there and talked to him. They were pleased with their success there.”
The mayor said scooters and their stations have been placed around the city, such as at Olde Main Plaza and Hudson and Washington streets near St. Albans High School.
The scooters are available to riders ages 18 and older only, with applicable rules of the road being enforced, such as wearing a helmet during their use, by local law enforcement officials.
“We have a helmet law in St. Albans,” James said, “and we have some restrictions on the streets you can ride on but can’t cross or streets where you can’t use them.
“We were a little worried about people stealing them, but Bird Rides has put an advanced GPS on them.”
James said the electric scooters aren’t permitted on sidewalks or private property, either.
To rent a scooter, riders must download the Bird Rides app and submit their personal information there. “Before you ride each time, you have to accept terms and conditions, including following the helmet laws and the traffic laws,” James said.
The scooters can reach a maximum speed of 15 mph. They’re collected, recharged and restocked around St. Albans every day.
Bird Rides operates the scooter service as a local, independent business in the city, the mayor noted.
“The city caught a little bit of grief early on about them,” he said. “One lady told me, ‘The city can’t build a skate park, but it can get electric scooters.’ I told her, ‘Ma’am, this is a separate business like any other. The city has no vested interest in it.’ Like any other business, we collect a B&O tax from them.”
Prospective riders can refer to St. Albans’ golf cart ordinance for more information on permissible riding areas throughout the city.