by CESAR SALAZAR
After city of Winona and Bird Co. staff called last year’s deployment of scooters a success, this year Winonans saw scooters return this month with some changes to the rules, including upping the cap on the number of scooters to 150 from 100 and allowing scooters around city parks.
Bird Rides, an e-scooter company, was the city's first scooter-ride-share company to be granted a license agreement last year. The company was granted the right to deploy 100 scooters throughout the city, with some restrictions on usage and riding locations. According to Winona Director of Recreation Facilities Patrick Menton, there were more than 15,000 rides throughout last year, covering a total of more than 21,000 miles of ground.
Despite the new maximum of 150, a Bird spokesperson said that Bird will still only deploy 100 scooters.
This past month, the Winona City Council approved amendments to the city code approving the higher numbers of scooters and allowing them and other “shared transportation systems” to be ridden to and around parks, with the exception of Levee Park, Lake Park, and Aghaming Park. City code still prohibits riding scooters in those parks and city trails.
Another change to the city code would allow any user over the age of 18 to ride the scooters without requiring a driver’s license. Previously under city code, users were supposed to have a valid Minnesota driver’s license which was to be verified by the Bird app. However, the app did not have a form for verifying users’ licenses. Menton said that the change was mainly to match Bird’s own policies governing the use of the scooters.
Menton said that the biggest issues the city faced last year with the scooters were that they were sometimes left parked on pedestrian right-of-ways. Despite the city reserving the right to bill Bird to clear any scooters out of the right of way, the city reportedly did not move any scooters, he said. He added that if citizens experience such cases, they can report the scooters to Bird online at help.bird.co or by calling (866) 205-2442.
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