RICHMOND — More dockless electric scooters hit Richmond streets Tuesday.
A year after a failed attempt to enter the Richmond market, Bird Rides Inc. relaunched in the city, the California-based company announced in a news release.
Bird becomes the second permitted scooter operator under a pilot program for micro-mobility companies that Mayor Levar Stoney’s administration established with Richmond City Council’s blessing earlier this year.
“We’re pleased that Bird has decided to enter the City of Richmond market as a permitted e-scooter operator,” Stoney said in the release.
Stoney’s administration impounded the company’s scooters last year, after Bird staged an impromptu launch that brought hundreds of its scooters to downtown, taking city officials by surprise.
The Department of Public Works said leaving the devices on city sidewalks violated city code. A Bird spokeswoman said at the time the company believed it had not violated any city rules.
Bird put out 150 scooters Tuesday, and will roll out up to 500 scooters over the next couple of weeks, a spokeswoman said via email, the maximum allowed for an operator under the city’s pilot program. The deployment will cost the company $45,000 in payment to the city.
“We look forward to serving the micromobility needs of the residents and visitors of Richmond to connect more deeply with the city and to help individuals safely and responsibly replace their car trips with a more sustainable and efficient option,” Paul Steely White, Bird’s director of safety, said in the release.
Riders must download a smartphone app to use the scooters. The company charges $1 to unlock the devices and 34 cents per minute to ride them, the spokeswoman said.
Bird’s scooters will share the streets with those of Bolt Mobility Co., which received the first permit under the pilot program in June.
Stoney has said his administration embraced the scooters as a way to improve the city’s public transportation network and improve access to jobs and education.
Sharon North, a spokeswoman for the city’s Department of Public Works, said another application from a scooter company was pending, but a third permit had not yet been issued.