Local student creates petition to outlaw Bird scooters

HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) — Bird scooters landed in Harrisonburg less than a month ago, but now, people are petitioning to remove them from the city.

Nathan Childs, a student at JMU, created the petition, "Remove Bird scooters from Harrisonburg," arguing that "these scooters have brought out the worst in us."

"There is a lot of recklessness," Childs said. "People are riding in opposing bike lanes on their Bird scooters. No one is wearing helmets, and it's enough of a problem that it should be regulated."

Childs' petition has gathered over 100 signatures, and he says aside from safety, obstruction of sidewalks is another concern.

"People just leave the Bird scooters in the middle of the sidewalk, blatantly."

Wesley Russ, the assistant city attorney, added that riders who park the scooters in the middle of the sidewalk are violating the city code.

Section 13-1-53. states, "It shall be unlawful for any person to park a vehicle on or near a sidewalk or pedestrian crossing in such a way as to block or obstruct the free passage of pedestrians or with any portion of the vehicle on or overhanging any portion of the sidewalk."

Russ says anyone who violates this code is subject to a $20 parking ticket.

"Someone who is in a wheelchair needs to be able to maneuver through the area," Russ said. "So if a scooter is blocking more than that, it is unlawfully parked."

Childs is urging Harrisonburg City Council to outlaw the use of Bird scooters. He says they disrupt the beauty of the city and put the safety of residents at risk.

Mayor Deanna Reed believes the scooters could be beneficial, if used correctly.

"I cringe when I see someone zipping down the street and there is no helmet," Reed said. "But I do think the scooters benefit our community... we just want to make sure everybody is safe. We have already had one accident, we do not need to have anymore."