Bird scooters in Downtown Boise Tuesday. Photo: Don Day/BoiseDev

NEWS ANALYSIS

E-scooters have been on the streets of Boise for a few months now, and they’ve started to be a regular part of everyday transit – particularly in the areas around Downtown.

While the City of Meridian had a bumpy launch and pulled the scooters from the streets, the Bird and Lime scooters continue to hum a long in Boise.

There’s still a bit of confusion among people on all transit modes, so here’s a few questions and answers.

Will the Birds fly south for the winter? Will the Limes seek warmer climates?

With snow and ice on the ground, some folks are wondering if the scooters will disappear from city streets in the winter. So far, the flock of Birds and bushel of Limes are still on the streets.

“Bird is extremely committed to the safety of our riders, and so we take into account the weather conditions of each city where Bird is available,” a spokesperson told BoiseDev after this story was initially published. “We have a team dedicated to closely monitoring all conditions, and they adjust our operations accordingly. This includes pausing our service when weather does not permit safe riding, and can sometimes lead to removing Birds from the road during periods of inclement weather caused by storms or hurricanes.”

Bird told Westword Denver that it has been working to “ruggedize” its fleet for wintry weather. Lime wouldn’t comment. Attempts to reach Lime were not fruitful.

Riding on the slush or ice is tricky since the wheels aren’t exactly studded. 

Can you ride in the road? How about on the sidewalk?

Disclosure: This story was prompted after I was accosted by a driver and told it wasn’t legal to ride the scooters in the roads without a bike route.

This misguided (and loud) driver has his facts scrambled. The City of Boise outlines where you can ride the scooters: Streets, sidewalks, crosswalks, in bike lanes and on the Boise River Greenbelt. Basically anywhere either a pedestrian or driver can be, so can a scooter – with a few exceptions: Parts of the Boise State campus, Boise skate parks, the Idaho State Capitol campus, and Kathryn Albertson Park.

Of course, you have to exercise caution (and maybe some common sense):

“As with all modes of transportation, please obey traffic laws and be mindful of obstructions, pedestrians, motorists and bicyclists,” the City of Boise’s website reminds. It also notes you must follow regular traffic laws.

What do I need to ride?

Think you can just download the app and fly? There are a few things you need to start: your smartphone naturally, a credit card for payment – and your driver’s license. You will scan the license to prove you are over 18. It’s a one-time process and off you go.

How much?

Bird just cut its rate to match Lime: $1 to start and $0.15 per minute. You can also “pause” a ride so if you need to run in somewhere really quick, the scooter stays reserved and someone else can’t ride it away. You continue to pay the $0.15 per minute while the scooter sits idle. 

Two at a time?

Have you seen two people riding one of the scooters at the same time? That is against both Lime and Bird’s terms of service (plus, it’s kinda dangerous). Also, if you ride recklessly, Boise Police could cite you with a misdemeanor.

When will the scooters return to Meridian?

They would return in mid-March, at the earliest.

2 COMMENTS

  1. Idaho code requires a drivers license to operate any motor vehicle on public roads. (with the exception of Segway type vehicles with non-tandem wheels). https://legislature.idaho.gov/statutesrules/idstat/Title49/T49CH3/SECT49-301/

    Electric scooters like electric bikes, are definitely in a gray area in Idaho code. Some would even argue they fall under ITD’s “motorized toys” category, which would be illegal to operate on public roads. https://www.itd.idaho.gov//wp-content/uploads/2016/06/motorcycle_manual.pdf

    This opinion from the Ada Country Sheriff regarding electric bikes is also interesting. It finds electric bikes operated in the street need tail-light, signals, and horn. However, it contradicts Idaho code with regard to requiring a drivers license. https://adasheriffblog.org/2015/02/03/heres-a-quick-idaho-code-lesson-motorized-bicycles-are-not-allowed-in-dedicated-bike-lanes/

    It’s all rather confusing, and each government seems to be interpreting the rules differently (Meridian, ACHD, Boise).

  2. I doubt Bird or Lime are in it for the long haul. Both were founded in 2017 by venture capital and are less than 2 years old. The usual goal of such ‘unicorn’ companies is to get bought out or IPO to suckers and make the founders and venture capitalists rich, while leaving the new shareholders holding a big, steaming pile of money-losing excrement. Snap, Inc. is a good example of a company whose stock today trades at a fraction of its IPO price. If the market sours for IPOs and acquisitions, then Bird and Lime will go bye-bye. I would love to see the financial statements of both companies.

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