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City scooters are a hit in Medford

An electric scooter is parked near Hawthorne Park in Medford Tuesday. [Jamie Lusch / Mail Tribune]

A flock of 150 Bird Ride scooters will continue to flit about Medford for at least another year.

“I think it’s cool,” said City Councilor Clay Bearnson, a downtown merchant. “It peppers the vibrancy of the downtown.”

Medford City Council recently approved a one-year pilot project extension for the e-scooters, which have logged 28,152 miles of travel this year, a majority of which has been for commuters.

“I had one friend ride it down to work and home,” said Bearnson, co-owner of The Gypsy Blues Bar.

According to the company, it logged 21,068 rides since January, which translates into 3.975 metric tons of carbon dioxide that haven’t been released into the air.

The scooters, which are relatively simple to operate and rent, can travel at up to 15 mph and are designed for use on roads and in bicycle lanes. Riders must be at least age 18 to use the scooters.

While some people have complained about the scooters blocking the sidewalk, Bearnson said he has found it only a minor issue, and he has mainly found scooters left in his parking lot.

“As long as they’re not obstructing the right of way, what’s the big deal?” he asked.

Bearnson said he noticed a lot of his customers tooling around in the summer, going to various events in the downtown.

Since the weather turned cold, Bearnson said he’s noticed a marked decrease in scooter use.

The council approved the one-year extension of the Pilot Operating Agreement between the city and Bird Rides, which also offers its scooters in Klamath Falls and Bend, as well as other locations around the world. Over the next year, the city and Bird Rides will develop a more permanent operating agreement.

The city receives 5 cents per ride, which translates to $1,282.50 since the scooter service began operations in Medford in January.

Bird Rides has told the city that usage has been strong, particularly over the summer.

Scooters must be parked out of the way of pedestrians and not blocking driveways. Riders are encouraged to wear helmets on every ride and are required to obey standard rules of the road.

The scooters are available through the Bird mobile phone application. Cost to rent one in Medford is $1 to start and then 39 cents for each minute, with a minimum cost of $3.50.

Discounts of 50% are available to low-income riders, Pell grant recipients, some local nonprofits and community organizations, as well as veterans and senior citizens through Bird’s Community Pricing Program. To sign up for the Community Pricing Program, download the Bird app, create an account and email your proof of eligibility to access@bird.co.

If residents have any issues with the e-scooters, the company can be reached at 1-866-205-2442 or hello@bird.co.

Reach freelance writer Damian Mann at dmannnews@gmail.com.