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Bird Scooters Land in Pittsfield
By Brittany Polito, iBerkshires Staff
03:58PM / Saturday, April 30, 2022
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Commissioner of Public Services and Utilities Ricardo Morales arrives at Friday's Arbor Day ceremony on a Bird Scooter. He had the same idea as iBerkshires.

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Bird scooters landed in Pittsfield this week and iBerkshires took a ride on one to see what they are all about.

Pittsfield is partnering with micro-mobility company Bird to provide a fleet of electric scooters that can be rented by the ride. It is at no cost to the city and the company has agreed to hold all liability. Pittsfield's only job is to provide messaging, education, and preparation for the fleet.

According to the city's Facebook page, the scooters arrived on Wednesday and were placed in a few places in the North Street vicinity.

Renting a scooter starts with downloading the free Bird app, which then shows a map of where the nearest ones are located. You must be 18 years or older to reserve and have a way of paying electronically.

The company's website states that there are non-smartphone and cash payment options — and other similar services — available to increase accessibility.

There is a one-dollar charge for the base ride plus 39 cents per minute. Anecdotal evidence points to the scooters being popular in their first week, but the city is hoping to get accurate figures on their use.
"We are excited to see lots of use. It is telling of a community that can embrace multiple modes of transportation," said Ricardo Morales, commissioner of utilities and public services. "We have to work as leaders in transportation in our county toward providing safe access to different modes. We are also looking forward to Bird sharing with the city the movement data which will offer us a look into how people move in our city."

iBerkshires picked up a scooter in front of ServiceNet that was in a neat row with a few others. The app allows you to prepay different amounts of money that can be used for the ride.

The process starts with scanning a barcode on the scooter with the Bird app.

After inputting payment information, the app goes through a short instructional slideshow on how to use the scooters when it recognizes that it is your first ride.  

The first slide shows how to start by getting on the scooter, pushing off with your preferred foot, and pushing down the "gas" lever to get moving. It then shows how to stop by squeezing the brakes located on the handles as you would with a bike. The app then instructs you to ride in the bike lanes and keep sidewalks clear for pedestrians.

Riding an e-scooter warrants all of the same etiquette as riding a bike. The wheels take minor bumps well but avoiding large potholes that are often spoken about in the city is recommended.

Some locations are considered "slow zones" but the scooters are able to travel at about 15 miles per hour.

When you are finished with your ride, you return to the app and select "end ride."  It will then ask you to take a photo of the scooter parked safely and will end your ride.

Riding on the sidewalk is not permitted but the scooters are intended to be parked on the sidewalk where they are not obstructing pedestrians.

If you want to make sure that another person doesn't rent the scooter while it is parked, it can be reserved for 30 minutes.

iBerkshires rode a total of 1.26 miles and paid $6.29, though was offered a free ride for referring a friend to the app. It was certainly faster than walking.

The takeaway? Riding the e-scooters seems to be similar to riding a bike in the city.

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