Scooter rollout sees few problems

One week after the official roll out of the new Bird scooters on the Minnesota State University campus, Facilities Services Director David Cowan recounted how the scooters are working on campus, and what is still yet to come. 

The University signed a contract promising 150 scooters to come to campus as well as 55 parking racks, or “nests” as Cowan called them. 

Since their arrival on campus, the scooters have accrued roughly 2,500 rides by students and faculty. 

Last week, there was an official roll out event where about 120 free helmets were given out to students passing by on the University mall. Also at the event, free test drives were given to many students. 

Before last Tuesday, the most scooters on campus at a time was less than 30. After the ribbon cutting ceremony, however, there have been around 50 scooters daily, with a peak of 70 dispersed on campus on Saturday to facilitate the football game. 

Due to supply-chain delays, scooter rack installation has been halted. 

“They were supposed to be here on September 1,” said Cowan, “but now I have a feeling we won’t see them for a couple more weeks.”

Each rack can accommodate four scooters, with a maximum capacity of 220 spots. This exceeds the contracted number of scooters, but it leaves room to grow the Bird presence on campus.

Since the quiet roll out earlier in the semester, there was an agreement made by the University and the Summit apartment complex to allow for the scooters on their property. 

“The reason we went with them is because they own property between Stadium Heights and the free lot,” said Cowan, referring to the apartment style residence community located away from campus.  “We needed to have a shortcut over their property.” 

In the agreement with Bird, the University receives 10 cents for every ride that happens on campus, no matter the length or distance of the ride. 

Cowan estimates that with all expenses, the upfront cost of bringing the scooters to campus to be roughly 10 thousand dollars. 

With the increased usage on campus, there are several occurrences of misuse and a few accidents. The worst resulted in a broken arm, which Cowan says prompted a quick response by campus security.

“Security was right there and helped them,” said Cowan. “We have a really good first responder system at MSU, and security was able to take care of them very very quickly.”

While any user of the scooters signs on a waiver, Cowan encourages students to be safe while riding the Bird scooters. 

“If you see a bump or you see a pothole in a parking lot, please avoid the pothole,” said Cowan “let’s be smart, and let’s be safe.” 

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