Local bike shop owner discusses Bird scooter safety and impact on bike industry

HARRISONBURG, Va (WHSV) -- Bird scooters have been in Harrisonburg for around two weeks and they seem to be popular so far. The manager at a local bike shop says it's too early to tell how Birds could impact business at bike shops, but there are more safety concerns with Birds than with bikes.

The Bird scooters are motorized, and users can pick them up and leave them anywhere in the city.

Bluestone Bike and Run's Manager says they primarily have bikes used for trail riding, so they're hoping the scooters won't have much of a negative impact on their business. But he believes all bike shops have the Bird scooters on their radar.

"In terms of students that might have previously bought a commuter bike, they might try to use the scooters instead, but it's still kind of hard because the scooter isn't where you left it. So it's not really as reliable as a bike would be if you owned it," said manager Erik Jensen.

He's concerned about safety with Bird scooters. He explains how it's safer to ride them in the road, like the law requires for bicycles, but he's seen many people riding them on sidewalks.

The problem is that the Bird scooters are too fast for sidewalks. And, of the people who do ride them in the road, many are ignoring the rules of the road.

"I see a lot of people riding against traffic, or running red lights, or things of that nature, running stop signs in them, I see that for sure," said Jensen.

Since the scooters are motorized, Virginia law requires them to be driven like bicycles, which must follow the same traffic patterns as automobiles and use hand signals when turning.

Jensen says it's safest for drivers and Bird users to follow the rules you agree to by using these scooters and when used in the road rather than on the sidewalk.

"They're responsible for knowing those rules just like a cyclist or a driver, and if you get pulled over in your car for going the wrong way up a one way, you can't say that you didn't know the rules of the road. I mean, you agreed to those by using the road," said Jensen.

He says it's important that anytime someone uses a Bird scooter, they're using it in the bike lane whenever possible, signaling turns, wearing a helmet, and stopping at red light and stop signs.

Jensen says following these rules can greatly reduce your risk of getting injured on a Bird scooter.