Disabilities commission: Bird scooters migrating on sidewalks causing a problem

The Columbia Disabilities Commission met with a consultant from Bird Rides, Inc., to discuss the electric scooters and the impact the operation might have on the accessibility of sidewalks. (Kyreon Lee/KRCG 13)

Bird scooters in Columbia are flocking all over Columbia, and some community members say they are causing a conflict.

The Columbia Disabilities Commission met on Thursday with Bird Inc. consultant Jeremy LaFaver to discuss how the operation has affected the accessibility of sidewalks.

“If they’re a hindrance to people getting around, then that’s a problem,” LaFaver said.

People are starting to park irresponsibly, by parking the scooters in the middle of sidewalks. However, LaFaver said the app requires riders take a picture of where they park the scooter before it deactivates.

“Being on the sidewalk on a Bird is not that comforting. It’s not safe, it doesn’t feel safe and it feels better when you’re on the street. People tend to migrate to the sidewalks when they don’t feel safe on the street,” he said.

Some members voiced their concerns about almost being hit by someone on a scooter and not being able to maneuver in wheelchairs properly. Some members said the scooters are too fast at 15 miles per hour.

“If they go any slower, everyone will ride on the sidewalks. The speed is to keep people flowing with traffic in the street,” LaFaver said.

Bird Inc. plans to improve the accountability of riders with rider education and starting up a “Birdwatchers” community.

LaFaver said Bird Inc. picks up every scooter at 9 p.m. each night to clear the sidewalks.

“We don’t want people out too late riding them around,” he said.

If someone makes a complaint about a bird on a sidewalk, then a Bird employee has to address it within two hours.

LaFaver said the scooters have been around for just a year, and the company is already valued at more than $2 billion. He said the point of the scooters is to get people out of their cars and out to enjoy the community.

LaFaver said the user data shows that there are fewer issues in Columbia with the scooters than other cities.

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