This story was first published on Next City, a nonprofit organization with a mission to inspire social, economic, and environmental change in cities through journalism and events around the world.
Electric scooters are on their way into cities across America. However, most e-scooters on the market cannot accommodate people with disabilities. To solve the problem, the scooter operator Bird, in collaboration with the rental company Scootaround, launched a pilot program in the Bronx that offers rental of electric wheelchairs and scooters in July. Now they are taking this program to San Francisco, according to a Bird spokesman.
“As micro-mobility opportunities such as shared bicycles and scooters continue to expand, we need to ensure that the benefits of these improved transport networks are made as widely available as possible, including for people with disabilities. Innovative partnership programs like this are an important part of the process. and we welcome Bird’s proactive participation in bringing them to life, “said Scootarounds CEO Kerry Renaud in a press release announcing the launch of the New York pilot.
The ongoing Bronx pilot allows users to rent three- and four-wheeled scooters specifically designed for people with disabilities, as well as electric wheelchairs, through the Bird app. Different from other e-scooter programs that are charged per. per minute, users rent these scooters and wheelchairs for $ 5 per day for up to 14 days and are able to choose a convenient pick-up and drop-off location. A personal guide is provided on the day of booking to help users become familiar with riding the scooters and provide instructions on how to properly charge and store the vehicle. Bird has not shared any data publicly on how many people have used the service since it was launched in July, but a Bird spokesman told Next City that the company is happy with the initial rollout and the pilot is proceeding as planned in the Bronx.
As micro-mobility opportunities such as shared bikes and scooters continue to expand, we need to ensure that the benefits of these improved transport networks are made as widely available as possible.
Dustin Jones, a board member in New York for the Center for Independence of the Disabled, has been a wheelchair user for 10 years. He is enthusiastic about programs that cater to people with disabilities, but believes that current service areas are too limited. When Citi Bikes, the city’s bikeshare system, and shared e-scooters first hit the streets of New York City, he felt left out.
“The way they advertise it – all New Yorkers can come and have this experience – it’s not true. I can not. So what am I? You say I’m not a New Yorker? I do not exist? We exist “It’s hurtful,” Jones said.
Jones himself lives in the Bronx and is disappointed that the neighborhood he lives in is still not covered by the current pilot area. He is soon moving to Chelsea, where he sees a lot of people riding on Citi bikes and e-scooters. He hopes the companies can soon expand the program so he can go out in the park with his friends on cozy winter days.
“I really hope they could somehow bring something over, to make something work. I would definitely love to run around Central Park or just wander around the city and do things that people do. [on e-scooters] for that, of course, is the future, ”he says.
The San Francisco program was launched on November 15th. This ongoing program runs in the same way as the New York pilot, though users in San Francisco will need to order vehicles through the Bird subsidiary Scoot. Bird plans to make this partnership available to other cities in the Bay Area soon, according to a spokesman for the company.