Metro, News

Bye-Bye Bird: E-scooter company leaves Providence

Providence gives permits to Spin, VeroRide, renews Lime’s existing permit

By
Senior Staff Writer
Monday, September 16, 2019

Overcrowding, accidents and crime issues have arisen with the increase of e-scooter use in cities, leading to the development of regulations.

Bird, the electric scooter service, will no longer provide scooters for the city of Providence as of Friday, Sept. 13.

The city handed out its latest permits in August, allowing two e-scooter services to populate Providence for the first time — Spin and VeoRide —and renewing Lime’s existing permits. But Bird was not so lucky.

“Bird is so grateful to our Providence community for supporting shared e-scooters and embracing an environmentally friendly alternative to short car trips,” wrote a Bird spokesperson in an email to The Herald. The app alerted users that it had ceased service in Providence Friday. “We thank Providence riders and would welcome the opportunity to provide our service again in the future,” the spokesperson added.

Emily Crowell, a spokesperson for Mayor Jorge Elorza, told the Providence Journal that the city chose Spin, VeoRide and Lime through a process “that ensures only those scooter-sharing companies determined to best align with our vision for mobility operate in the city over the next year.”

Electronic personal transportation devices have sprouted up nationwide, creating new ways to travel short distances. But with the new devices have come new problems: Cities have struggled to address overcrowding, accidents and crime issues that have spiked as a result of the scooters. Bird and Lime briefly left Providence last year to allow the city to develop appropriate regulations, and JUMP Bikes were recently removed from Providence due to safety and crime concerns.

New e-scooter permit regulations that went into effect Sunday include a host of public safety-related mandates. The city has required e-scooter companies to maintain an endowment of $50 per scooter to reimburse possible property repair costs from scooter accidents, and scooters are not allowed to go faster than 10 miles per hour in public areas. The permitting allows for a maximum of 600 scooters in Providence — 250 for Lime and 175 each for Spin and VeoRide, according to the Providence E-scooter Share Program.

The permits are set to last one year unless terminated by the city. After the first three months of the program, the city will re-evaluate the fleet size allocations on a monthly basis.

Even with other transportation options on campus, some students say they will miss Bird. Nikolai Stambler ’22, a frequent e-scooter rider, will miss Bird’s presence on College Hill.

“That makes me upset because they were faster than Limes. Faster and more fun,” Stambler said.

Spin and VeoRide have yet to announce when their scooters will arrive in Providence.