Start of the Windsor scooter pilot program goes largely smoothly

There was a big buzz in the city about Bird’s electric scooter pilot program, which began May 6 in Windsor, the first city in Sonoma County to do so.

There were a few bumps in the road as local residents complained that children under 18 were allowed to rent them and were riding on sidewalks, crashing into cars and generally causing chaos.

After that was handled through ID verification technology that requires drivers to scan a badge before each trip, it’s been a smooth ride for the year-long pilot program, which was approved by City Council on April 6.

“I’m hearing mostly positive comments so hopefully we’ll sort out any issues that arise,” said Windsor Deputy Mayor Esther Lemus. “That’s positive because fewer people are driving. I’ve been on one of these scooters before and it’s a pretty easy way to get around. We have a SMART train that will be nearby… I would be more likely to use the train if I knew there was a way to work.”

The 25-50 scooters are strategically stationed around Windsor and riders must ride on trails and bike lanes, not sidewalks or the road as they are limited to 15mph. All scooters have GPS tracking and users pay $1 per mile using a Bird app.

Hampton Inn guests who come from major metropolitan areas like Austin, Texas and Los Angeles appreciate the scooters parked in front of the hotel because they are familiar with them, according to Director of Sales Katie Phillips.

“They ask a lot of questions – they like the fact that we have them in front of our hotel,” Phillips said. “Some use them to go to the Russian River Brewing Co.”

Her employees sometimes use her to pick up lunch, she said.

The scooters are “a great selling point for future bookings,” Phillips said.

“A bride asked about the distance to our restaurants and I mentioned that we had these cute little scooters and she was very excited and wanted to tell all of her guests that they could use these instead of Ubers,” she said. “It was a great conversation starter.”

Scooters are most commonly hired and used in central Windsor, but according to the city, “a lot of people start and end their rides all over Windsor, perhaps more concentrated around Windsor Golf Club, the Beverage District and Keizer Park and shopping malls.” , said Shannon Cotulla, Windsor’s director of public works.

“Because this is a new program, it will take a little time for people to get used to e-scooters,” Cotulla said in a written statement. “In order to ride a Bird scooter, riders agree to obey traffic and safety rules, such as: B. to refrain from driving on sidewalks. Bird also has several driver education initiatives both on the app and other channels to promote safe driving. The city has received some complaints about children riding the scooters and improper ridership – these have been relayed to Bird via calls, emails and the Bird app.”

Rider numbers are highest in the late afternoon and early evening, she said. According to Garrett Gronowski, a representative for the microtransport company, who spoke on March 6.

Mayor Sam Salmon said while he’s received some negative feedback about the scooters when kids have ridden them, he’s fully committed.

“It’s easy for me to have them out there for people to see,” he said. “I think their commitment will increase. … It will take a while. It is about the reduction of green gas. The car will kill us.”

Beth Henry, Executive Director of the Windsor Chamber of Commerce said: “I haven’t had any feedback (about the scooters) from the companies, which I consider to be good. If there had been problems, I would have heard.”

“I like them; I like their randomness,” she added. “I really think this helps with that last mile problem you keep hearing about.”

You can reach Associate Kathleen Coates at [email protected] or 707-521-5209.

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