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Moscow, Idaho, OKs One-Year Shared Scooter Agreement

The City Council on Monday voted to approve a one-year licensing agreement with Bird Rides to deploy as many as 200 shared electric scooters. The company will initially deploy between 25 and 35 devices.

(TNS) — The Moscow City Council on Monday unanimously approved a one-year license agreement with a company to deploy shared-use electric scooters beginning this summer.

The company, Bird Rides, will begin a phased approach to deploying the scooters in June. Bird Rides representative Michael Covato told the council the company will likely deploy 25 to 35 scooters initially, and then add more scooters incrementally on a weekly basis. Moscow could receive up to 200 scooters total.

City Councilor Julia Parker said the scooters are a positive addition to multimodal transportation in the city and fits with Moscow's climate action plan. She said the short-term contract will allow Moscow to address public concerns.

"It is a one-year contract," she said. "If Bird (Rides) fails to meet the requirements of the contract, we can stop it earlier than that."

City Supervisor Bill Belknap said Moscow is not paying for the scooters. Instead, Bird Rides is paying a license fee to the city to deploy their devices there.

The agreement and city code provide rules for the scooters and other e-assist devices.

To avoid clutter, people are not allowed to park the scooters at Friendship Square or next to the Student Union Building on the University of Idaho campus. Belknap said the scooters will have GPS technology called geo-fencing that will prevent the user from ending their rides in these locations.

As a safety measure, downtown Moscow will be designated as a "dismount zone," where operating the scooters on the sidewalks is prohibited. The city will install signage letting people know about the dismount zones.

Covato said Bird Rides is developing technology that will prohibit the scooters from operating on certain sidewalks at the city's request. However, this technology will not be available in 2022.

The current technology does allow roadways to be geo-fenced. Belknap said they can geo-fence certain areas where city events are being held that will prevent the scooter from operating at those places. Covato said the user will be notified of these areas through the app they use to pay for the scooter.

People who use the scooters will be charged by the minute. Covato said Bird Rides offers a 50% discount for low-income users, senior citizens and veterans.

Moscow city code established a 10 mph speed limit on sidewalks and a 15 mph speed limit for nonmotorized pathways. Scooters must yield the right-of-way to pedestrians.

Covato said each scooter's speed is capped at 15 mph and riders will be encouraged to wear helmets. He said people can pay to have helmets shipped to their homes and Bird Rides could also ship helmets to city hall and the UI at no cost.

Bird Rides must maintain a 24-hour hotline to field complaints and requests for immediate removal of the scooters.

©2022 the Moscow-Pullman Daily News, Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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