Electric Scooters Sneak into Virginia Markets

Oct 5, 2018

Earlier this week, Virginia Beach began confiscating electric scooters, saying they violate city code. The two-wheeled machines are being dropped off in cities across Virginia, by a company called Bird Scooters.

 

Reporter Mallory Noe-Payne takes a Bird Scooter for a spin.

  In addition to Virginia Beach, the Bird scooters are in Arlington, Norfolk and Richmond.

The scooters are dockless and can be picked up wherever the last user left them. To use the scooters you download an app, scan a barcode on the device, pay with a credit card. And you’re off.

Jillian Bates first rode one a couple weeks ago, and they’ve become part of her commute ever since.  

 

“I have the wind in my hair! I don’t have to walk,” Bates says. “It’s cheap. It’s convenient.”

According to a Bird spokesperson they currently don’t have plans to expand to any other Virginia localities. But, announcing ahead of time isn’t exactly their modus operandi.

“The business model for the electric scooter companies is to ask for forgiveness and not permission,” says Scott Cummings, an expert on local government law at UCLA.

Cummings says that across the country the companies will move into a market and generate interest.

“Putting local governments in a position of having then to kind of, make up time quickly and regulate in a space where there’s already a lot of use going on,” he explains.

That’s what’s happened in Richmond. The city has scrambled to put together a proposal for a one-year pilot program. The fact that it hasn’t passed city council yet, doesn’t seem to be stopping people.

 

This report, provided by Virginia Public Radio, was made possible with support from the Virginia Education Association.