Bird Scooters is looking to enter into an exclusive contract with City of Reno, and launching in late April in the downtown and midtown areas.
You can find the full proposal starting on page 392 in the Staff Report for the April 13 Reno City Council meeting. Here are some highlights below.
I’m going to be the optimist with this program, because Reno’s population and central zones are large enough to support a micro-mobility program like this. Yes, we all remember the nightmare that was Lime Bikes, with bikes being trashed, ending up in the river, or worse.
But perhaps Reno has matured a bit, combined with the security technology of Bird, and rider accountability. maybe we’ll see minimal problems and the benefit will outweigh the drawbacks.
They are proposing a phased deployment for the City of Reno, ramping up to the full fleet over approximately 6-8 weeks, generally in line with the schedule noted below.
Their full fleet will be around 1,000 vehicles.
- Late April - 40% of fleet introduced Launch with 20 parking locations
- Mid May - Scale to 75% of total fleet and add 20-30 new parking locations plus additional outreach with TMBA for Bike Month, including events, newsletter, social media
- Late May - Scale to 90% of total fleet, add 20-30 new parking locations, Student Outreach at UNR and Truckee Meadows Community College
- Early/Mid June - Scale to 100% of total fleet, Complete parking schedule (100 parking spots installed) Bird will analyze ridership patterns and utilization in each zone throughout the program to inform deployment decisions, and make adjustments in consultation with the City of Reno.
The scooters themselves are much more high tech in terms of riding experience, security and parking.
No Parking Zones
Bird uses no-parking zones to prevent riders from parking vehicles in areas requested by the City, residents or businesses. These are often implemented in areas that experience high pedestrian volumes. No-parking zones are continuously reviewed and established through community feedback and City-forwarded requests. Bird also geofences certain high-risk areas, such as parks, publicly accessible plazas, off-street parking lots/garages, campuses, and other areas outside of the City’s public right-of-way. If a rider enters a no-parking zone, the Bird sends an alert to the individual’s mobile phone and informs them via audible and visual messages on the vehicle itself. Their on-vehicle technology prevents riders from ending their ride until they are outside of the restricted area.
Using their on-vehicle speed governor and geofencing technology, they can implement a range of speed limits (both temporary or permanent) in different areas of a city and on specific streets, from 1 mph to 15 mph. If a rider enters one of these zones, Bird alerts the individual via a notification to their mobile phone as well as audible and visual alerts on the Bird that the vehicle's speed is about to be safely reduced.
As a rider approaches one of these zones, the Bird sends an alert to the individual’s mobile phone as well as audible and visual alerts on the vehicle to inform them that their speed will be reduced and then stopped. The Bird then slowly and safely reduces its speed, coming to a complete stop to prevent crossing the geofence boundary.
Riders are held accountable for proper parking. They are required to take a photo of their properly parked Bird after every ride, and Bird is able to issue escalating penalties to riders who do not follow proper parking protocols. This includes escalating fines and after the 4th offense, termination of their Bird account.
In addition to providing riders with turn-by-turn directions to their nearest parking location, it encourages their use by rewarding riders with free ride credits every time they end their ride in an approved location. Specifically, the feature: (1) Educates riders on where corrals are and how to park using highly visible messaging, including full-screen prompts, in-ride reminders and parking pins that are prominently displayed on the map. (2) Incentivizes riders by offering free credits toward future rides every time they end their ride in a designated parking location. (3) Provides details on each approved parking corral, including its location, a photo and a description of exactly where to park. It also offers turn-by-turn directions to a rider’s chosen corral. (4) Gives feedback to riders using location-enabled alerts to let them know when they are in an approved parking area and eligible to receive incentives
Here are some of the specs of the Bird 3 scooters from Bird.
● Increased Capacity: Bird Three has a battery capacity of up to 1 kWh, meaning it requires less frequent charging and delivers more miles traveled on a fully charged battery than any other shared scooter available today. More miles traveled leads to more sustainable rides and, ultimately, decreased carbon emissions throughout the vehicle’s entire life cycle due to dramatically reducing the number of operational trips required to recharge it.
● IP68 Rated: Industry’s best protection against water and dust damage keeps Bird Three batteries safely running past 14,000 miles. Engineered to last up to four times longer than the actual scooters and ensure they are responsibly recycled at their end of life. Bird is also exploring giving these cells a second life in other devices.
● Structural Integration: Like the batteries used in the newest Tesla models, Bird’s structural batteries reduce vehicle mass, improve range and sustainability, and remain connected to Bird Three’s telematics and cloud communications.
● Hermetically Sealed Battery Casing: Fully weatherproof and tamper-proof casing keeps riders safe by minimizing the risk of battery damage and/or theft.
● Smart Battery Management System: Battery Management System immediately unplugs when charging is complete, reducing strain on the battery and extending life. Longer-lasting batteries with longer range means fewer batteries needed and a lower carbon footprint.
● Multi-Material Chassis: Material properties include aerospace-grade aluminum, which provides best-in-class durability.
● Impact Resistant: Independently tested and verified to withstand more than 60,000 curbside impacts, Bird Three is built for the rigors of shared use.
● Anti-Tip Kickstand: Bird Three stands upright on any surface and is very difficult to tip over
● Automotive-Grade, Self-Sealing Pneumatic Tires: Proprietary tire design ensures a soft ride over all surfaces without risk of getting a flat or requiring complicated suspension systems that are prone to safety issues.
● Dual Independent Brakes: Superior braking performance on each wheel results in a shorter stopping distance.
● Autonomous Emergency Braking: The industry’s only active safety technology designed to detect brake failure and intervene to prevent an accident.
● 2x Hidden Brake Cables: Hidden and covered brake cables to increase protection against weather damage and vandalism.
● Dual-Sensor Throttle: Automotive-grade acceleration that provides functional safety and absolute accuracy in speed control through two independent measurements.
● Beginner Mode: A gentle acceleration option that lets new riders gradually work their way up to full speed.
● Over-the-Air Upgrades: Operating system allows instant wireless system updates to Bird Three.
● Accurate Geofences: Bird OS enforces strict adherence to speed limits, no-ride and reduced-speed zones in cities.
● Auto-Calibration: Brake sensors are automatically calibrated to ensure accuracy and safety.
● Anti-Theft Encryption: Encrypted embedded software keeps riders safe and helps deter theft.
● Real-Time Fault Detection: Millions of daily autonomous fault checks self-diagnose and report hundreds of unique events, from abnormal battery temperatures to a sticky brake. This technology makes it easier for Bird to manage its devices remotely and allows teams to quickly locate distressed vehicles before damage or vandalism can place rider at risk.
● 200+ On-Vehicle Sensory Inputs: Fully customizable diagnostic sensors monitor every component of Bird Three.
● Extended Chassis: A longer wheelbase provides more stability on all terrains, creating a better vehicle fit for people of all shapes and sizes and improving riders’ overall comfort.
● Wider Handlebars: A wider grip makes Bird Three’s handlebars easier to grip and provides better handling.
● Self-Centering Assisted Steering: The only e-scooter that provides self-centering steering assistance to improve safety and stability when riding over rough terrain.
● Antimicrobial Grips:Added protection helps keep all riders healthy and safe.
● Neck Status Light: New, highly visible status indicator lets riders and team members immediately know the health and charge of a vehicle even from across the street.
● German K-Mark-Certified LED Headlight and Brake Light: High-powered automatic Intuitive Handling for all riders
You can find more information including fleet management, community outreach, partnerships and more in the Staff Report.
Overall, I'm hoping for a positive experience with this.
There's no doubt that some cities have experienced issues, including spikes in injuries. Injuries seem to be a more common problem in cities like San Diego and Los Angeles, than actual vandalism to the scooters. Most of the issues reported stem from riders riding on sidewalks and going the incorrect direction on one-way streets, which could be an issue on Sierra and Center Streets downtown. Perhaps we could be proactive with issues like this, and implement Bird's geofencing technology to prevent riding on sidewalks, and if necessary, make Center and SIerra Streets 'no-Ride' zones if it becomes an issue.
A large chunk of injuries hwoever, were reported on early-generation scooters, of which have since been upgraded with newer, safer models.
It seems like in most cities, kinks are worked out during the initial roll-out or pilot phase. Perhaps our council members can learn from pilot program issues like in Topeka, where geo-fencing and allowing ridership during certain hours (cutting it off after 11 pm) were learned and implemented only after experiencing issues. Let's nip those issues in the bud with this rollout and implement measures that have worked in other cities to combat issues early-on.
To help combat injuries, Bird issues credits to those who take selfies while wearing a helmet, to encourage safer ridership. Personally, I think helmets should be required. They are required for bike riding yes? I can't recall if that's an actual law in Nevada or Reno, or not.