Sunday, October 1, 2023

Here’s the deal about those Bird scooters on the boardwalk at the Oceanfront

VIRGINIA BEACH — Summer is here, and crowds are flocking to the oceanfront.

Yet, some people are worried for the safety of Virginia Beach visitors, and it has nothing to do with the ocean — according to beachgoers, it’s those Bird scooters.

Albeit a common sighting, it’s illegal to ride Bird Scooters on the boardwalk and bike path, according to October’s memo from City Manager David Hansen.

When asked, several beachgoers agree — scooters on the boardwalk are dangerous, citing it’d be okay if they were on the bike path, but the nearly-silent motor makes it hard to hear when they’re coming, unlike skateboards and rollerblades.

Marquis Teague sells concessions on the boardwalk and says he’s never seen an incident involving a scooter but notes as more people crowd the Oceanfront in the summer “they’ll have no choice but to take the scooters to the bike path.”

“Otherwise, something bad is bound to happen,” he said.

In the Bird app, users can see where a scooter is located and instruction on how to rent and ride. (Southside Daily/Lucretia Cunningham)
In the Bird app, users can see where a scooter is located and instruction on how to rent and ride. (Southside Daily/Lucretia Cunningham)

How to ride

Bird makes it easy to find and rent a scooter through its mobile app.

Clicking the “How to Ride” banner will pull up step-by-step instructions with local rules:

  • No riding on the sidewalks
  • No riding without a helmet
  • No riding without a valid driver’s license
  • No riding on Atlantic Avenue
  • No riding on the boardwalk or adjacent bike path
  • No riding in the Town Center

Despite the “everybody does it” reasoning, Virginia Beach Police says if they see violations, they’ll enforce them by simply asking the rider to comply, but will not impound the scooter if the rider complies.

Still, enforcing escooters is no easy feat.

“Bird scooters are relatively new to Virginia Beach, and they seemed to appear rapidly and in large quantities,” said MPO Linda Kuehn, the police department’s spokeswoman.

Since the motorized scooters’ sudden arrival in August, the city has been at odds with the reception of the vehicles.

Related Story: Bird motorized scooters are being rounded up and impounded in Virginia Beach and Norfolk

Bird paid more than $22,000 in fees to Norfolk and Virginia Beach to reclaim about 700 impounded scooters, officials at the two cities said.

Related Story: Norfolk’s Bird problem has finally come to an end

Bird does not operate in Norfolk but settled its tab as the city votes on escooter contact proposals in the upcoming weeks.

“We will announce the vendor on June 12 and the pilot program will launch end of June or early July,” said Lori Crouch, the city’s spokeswoman.

A spokesperson from Bird did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

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