Bird scooters land in Harrisonburg

Published: Oct. 16, 2018 at 5:24 PM EDT
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If you've driven around Harrisonburg lately, you've probably seen them — the electric scooters by the name of "Bird."

People in the city have been zipping through the streets on them since Friday.

"They are faster than I expected them to be," said Dave Sloop, a first-time rider. "They could be potentially dangerous if you're not careful."

The scooters can go up to 20 miles per hour, but riders are not legally required to wear a helmet. Law enforcement officials say the sudden appearance of these scooters brings safety concerns.

"Around town, with the intersections and crosswalks, you already have a lot of cars, bikes, and pedestrians, and now you're adding these into the mix," said Sheriff Bryan Hutcheson, with Rockingham County Sheriff's Office. "When you come to any kind of intersection, be more alert than you normally are."

The scooters operate through the Bird app, and before riding, users must scan a valid drivers license. The app then urges riders to grab a helmet and ride in bike lanes only — never on the sidewalk.

"We want people to be safe in their travels," Sheriff Hutcheson said, "and hopefully this will prove to be means that can be done that way."

The city of Harrisonburg weighed in on the concern, adding, "Ideally, as the novelty wears off and people become more accustomed to seeing and to using the scooters, proper parking of the scooters in a manner that doesn't impede travel or create a safety hazard will become habit."

Wesley Russ, the assistant city attorney, says the city will keep an eye out and see what, if any, issues arise.

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