Scooter rental app Bird rolls into Raleigh, but will it run into trouble?

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A new app lets people rent scooters in downtown Raleigh. (WTVD)

Dotted downtown, in front of restaurants and shops, is a new way to get around.

"I'm pretty excited. I think it's pretty cool. Looking forward to riding around downtown," said George Beinhart, after he walked out of his office building on Fayetteville Street.

On Wednesday, Bird launched in Raleigh. The app allows users to unlock dockless, electric scooters for $1, plus 15 cents a minute.

Beinhart, who lives outside the city, said he believes it will make Raleigh more accessible.

"You're still driving into downtown. But you can now go from here to Glenwood Avenue to the Warehouse District kind of without driving and parking," Beinhart said.

So how does it work? You download the free app, and put in your contact information, a picture of your driver's license, and credit card information.

A map will appear, showing the locations of the scooters and their respective battery life. Using your phone's camera, scan the QR code on top to unlock the scooter, and then ride.

You start by pushing off with your foot for the first two to three feet, before putting both feet on the board. You can speed by pushing down on the throttle with your right thumb, and brake with your left hand. When finished, you park the scooter near a curb on the sidewalk, and out of the right-of-way of pedestrians, preferably near a tree or street sight.

Catharine Van Leer was walking along Fayetteville Street with a friend when she excitedly saw the Bird scooter parked.

"It is so much fun. I was in Denver a few weeks ago, and they had actually just launched them there. But it's a great way to get around the city," said Van Leer.

Are they safe? The scooters top out at approximately 15 mph. While the app requires riders to wear a helmet and avoid riding on sidewalks, enforcement of infractions can be difficult.

To combat the former, Bird is offering to send helmets to riders, as long as they cover shipping. Van Leer advised people to wear helmets, but believes they're safe.

"They're pretty easy to ride, and as long as you obey traffic instructions, you shouldn't get into too much trouble," said Van Leer.

Outside safety, permitting issues persist. In a statement to our media partners at The News and Observer, Eric Lamb, Raleigh's transportation planning manager, said, "There has been no coordination with the city on this launch, nor has there been any permitting or approvals at this point."

Recently, the company was booted out of San Francisco for that reason.

ABC11 has requested an interview with Bird management but has yet to hear back.
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traveltransportationraleigh newsappRaleighWake County
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