LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – Bird is rolling out a fleet of electric scooters in Louisville to provide transportation options as the city begins a phased approach to reopening.

The company pulled all scooters off the streets in every city it serviced once the coronavirus pandemic hit.

“In most of these cities, the goal through March and April really was how do we keep people inside and safe? So we didn’t want the presence of Birds out on the road to be an encouragement for people to be out and about,” said Sam Reed, who handles government partnerships for Bird.

After about two months, Bird started reaching out to select cities, which had designated scooter transportation as an essential service, with plans to launch smaller fleets. Currently there are Bird scooters in 11 cities across the globe, including Louisville.

Reed said the company wants its plans to match with local governments’ strategies and message. So while Louisville was encouraging everyone to stay safe at home, scooters were removed. Now that businesses and restaurants are starting to slowly open, Bird plans to provide limited rider options.

There are a lot of essential trips that people need to start making, but not everyone has a car. And ride-sharing services using vehicles might not be the safest option for some people, because it’s too much close contact in an enclosed space, said Reed. Bird believes scooters are a safe option for people needing to make trips alone and in the fresh air.

“And I think folks just want to get out and feel the breeze in their hair at this point,” said Reed. “We encourage that as well, as long as you’re doing it in a safe way. And we believe we’re offering a safe option for people to get around right now.”

Last year, there were up to 450 Bird scooters in Louisville at a time. The company submitted a plan in mid-April to the city about how the rollout would work. Reed said once it was approved, 50 scooters were placed downtown in late April. By May 11, there were 200 scooters strategically placed around the city based on demand.

“They’re where we felt we could be useful for those essential tasks, like commutes, grocery shopping, medical appointments. We wanted to make sure we’re putting them near pharmacies and grocery stores,” said Reed.

Bird is also offering free rides to healthcare and emergency workers. You can sign up through the app or online.

The scooters are being deep cleaned and sanitized each day. Crews use CDC approved disinfectants to sanitize all the rider-contact points including the handlebars, throttle, breaks, bell, and frame.

But the company is encouraging riders to be responsible before, during and after a trip. All riders are encouraged to wipe down a scooter before using it, if they have their own disinfectant wipes available. Reed said it is also encouraged that riders wear gloves and either wash their hands or use hand sanitizer after a ride.

A benefit of riding a scooter, Reed said it already encourages people to stay six feet apart.

Bird does not plan to put out any more than 200 scooters in the near future.

The other three shareable electric scooter companies that have agreements with Metro Louisville are Lime, Bolt and Spin. According to the apps for those three scooter companies, rides have been temporarily suspended in the county.

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