The motorized scooters available in the District and many other U.S. cities rent for as little as $1 plus 15 cents per minute. The services work similarly to the dockless bike systems, allowing users to track down a scooter via an app and to drop it off just about anywhere after a trip is completed.
Bird is in several California markets, including Los Angeles, and has raised $100 million to expand outside the state. Its latest markets include the District, San Francisco and San Diego.
A company spokesman said the scooters will be deployed in the District based on rider demand, up to 400, based on city regulations, and will be available in neighborhoods across all four quadrants, including east of the Anacostia and near Howard University, Logan Circle, and the U Street corridor. Scooters can be tracked through the Bird smartphone app.
Electric scooters arrived in the District last month, when California-based Waybots launched. LimeBike, which started dockless bike operations in the city last fall, added scooters to its fleet earlier this month.
The new services, though welcomed by many city residents, also have led to complaints about bikes being parked in places where they are not allowed, and blocking private property and pedestrian access.
On Tuesday, Bird founder and chief executive Travis VanderZanden called on other dockless scooter and bike companies to work to prevent sidewalks from becoming dumping grounds for abandoned and broken bikes as has been the case in cities in China and other parts of the world. He urged them to pledge to “Save Our Sidewalks.”
In a letter addressed to four other dockless companies, VanderZanden said they can commit to give a share of their revenue, $1 per vehicle per day, to build bike lanes, promote safe riding, and maintain shared infrastructure. He also urged the operators to commit to keep track of their bikes and scooters, ensuring they are not cluttering neighborhoods, and to not add more vehicles unless each is getting at least three uses daily.
“We have all seen the result of out-of-control deployment in China — huge piles of abandoned and broken bicycles, overrunning sidewalks, turning parks into junkyards, and creating a new form of pollution — and new problems for cities,” VanderZanden said in the letter addressed to LimeBike, Ofo, Mobike and Jump. “We cannot let this happen to our cities here” in the United States.