New features are in flight after city councilors approved a memorandum that gives Bird the green light to take off in Claremore.
Bird is a scooter business with a mission to make cities more livable by reducing car usage, traffic, and carbon emissions, a spokesperson for Bird said.
“Bird is looking forward to working with the city to bring our fleet of eco-friendly vehicles to Claremore,” said Riff City Strategies Junior Associate Olivia Tran. “Providing riders in Claremore with a fun and sustainable transportation option is core to our mission of reducing reliance on gas-powered vehicles.”
Claremore City Planner Kyle Clifton said Bird reached out to the city regarding the potential to come to Claremore.
“This wasn’t something we were actively recruiting,” Clifton said.
Clifton said Bird intends on bringing 50 scooters to town with 4-5 rental kiosk locations.
Depending on input from the community, the scooters will be available by either mid November or in the early spring by the end of February.
Bird has scooters in cities ranging in size all across the globe from Tulsa and Wichita to Berlin and Madrid.
“We’re a smaller community and yet, they are reaching out to us,” Clifton said. “We didn’t go out shopping for this. They reached out to us.”
Clifton said there aren't many scooters in communities with a population around 20,000.
“We thought that it was a very unique opportunity,” he said. “It plays well with the way we are trying to head with the comprehensive plan.”
Clifton said these scooters provide a unique experience and are often used by the college population.
“It provides a means to connect the college with downtown and of the other districts that continue evolving over time,” he said. “One of the things we’ve tried to do and make strides in is to become more of a college town and not a town with a college in it.”
Clifton said if you look at towns such as Stillwater, Tahlequah or Norman, these cities and towns have embraced the college student population and have integrated them into the ecosystem of the community.
These scooters provide means of transportation with those without a car to move about the city, explore Claremore and get to a variety of events, he said.
Clifton said the memorandum is for one year and can be terminated at any time with a 30-day written notice.
“It’s one of those things we’re looking at it as kind of a test,” he said. “We’re going to have to play with this.”
Before the scooter rollout, Clifton said they are going to have an open discussion with the public and city partners regarding where scooters can and can not be, speed zones, etc.
“There’s a lot of conversations that need to happen between the city and our community partners to be sure we are being cognizant of the things that they have going on,” he said.
Clifton said this agreement with Bird is fully customizable and their goal is to create an operations protocol that will meet the needs of the community but also serve the clientele that will be using the scooters.
“We’re going to kind of rely on the community to help us tailor the solution,” he said.
Clifton said anyone can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Clifton said with the agreement in place, Bird will start the search for an account manager.
“The account manager will be responsible for all things scooter,” he said. “If a scooter winds up in a stormwater culvert, if it ends up in a creek, if somebody just dumps it in a grass patch somewhere – that account manager will be able to locate those scooters through GPS and they’ll be able to relocate and reposition those scooters. The city will not be responsible for policing those scooters.”
However, Clifton said they will not allow scooters to sit in people yards for long periods.
“We’re not going to want to cause any type of harm or damage to public property or private property,” he said.
This agreement requires zero capital investment from the city.
“We don’t have to invest a dime, but we also don’t receive a dime,” Clifton said.
Tran said Bird looks forward to supporting the community of Claremore in their transportation needs.
Pricing to ride the e-scooters will start at $1 to unlock and incur a per-minute cost.
Bird also will offer several options for ride passes that Claremore riders can purchase. Bird also offers community pricing for low-income riders, Pell grant recipients, select local nonprofit and community organizations, veterans, and senior citizens. Bird offers free rides to healthcare workers and emergency personnel.
Clifton asks community members to be patient.
“Change is always a little difficult,” he said. “As we get new information about what is working and what isn’t working, we will continue to make changes until everyone, or the majority of everyone, is happy with the solution.”