Vienna residents now have a new way to get around town and beyond – electric scooters. Bird escooters are now operational in the Town of Vienna, and the company will begin supplying 25 to 50 of the rentable shared mobility devices (SMDs) at designated Town locations beginning early next week.
The Vienna pilot SMD program was established after a state law was passed requiring local jurisdictions to have an ordinance or pilot in place to regulate e-scooters and other SMDs by January 2020. If no ordinance or pilot was in place, the law would allow e-scooter companies to operate without regulation. The Vienna Town Council approved the SMD pilot in December 2019, and Bird is the first company to be approved to operate e-scooters in the Town. Bird already operates in other jurisdictions throughout Fairfax County.
“Our SMD pilot is for one year during which time we will gather information about use, safety and other details to present to the Town Council,” said Town Transportation Engineer Andrew Jinks. “The Town Council will use the report to inform the direction of a permanent Town SMD ordinance.”
Mayor Linda Colbert and Town Manager Mercury Payton each took a Bird e-scooter for an inaugural spin this morning on the Town Green.
“The operation is pretty straightforward, and it seems very user-friendly,” Colbert said.
Payton agreed. “For many people, this seems to be a low-cost and environmentally friendly way to get around.”
Like bicycles, electric scooters are permitted for use on streets, sidewalks and shared-use paths in Vienna. Speed is regulated by GPS technology, depending on location. Due to the roadway speed limit and volume of vehicles on Nutley Street SW and Maple Avenue, it is anticipated that riders will use the sidewalk for safety reasons. On these streets, and in the vicinity of any Town school, park and recreation center, the e-scooter speed is limited to 8 miles per hour. In less congested areas, the scooters can travel up to 15 miles per hour. Speeds also vary in other jurisdictions throughout Fairfax County according to local regulations.
The e-scooters are available for rent between 4 a.m. and midnight through Bird’s mobile phone application. Riders pay a per-minute fee to use the scooter. Discounts are available for veterans, senior citizens, healthcare workers, qualifying students and select community groups. Riders can use their own safety helmet or obtain one through the company’s free helmet program.
When renting an e-scooter, riders agree to park the devices in an upright position in a manner that does not obstruct any public right-of-way or impede pedestrians or access to buildings. The company uses GPS tracking to retrieve the scooters overnight and place them in locations on the Bird map. The company’s online Beginner’s Guide is a good starting point for learning how to safely ride, park and locate the e-scooters.
Misplaced or damaged e-scooters can be reported directly through the Bird app. Additional questions and concerns should be directed to Andrew Jinks, Town of Vienna Transportation Engineer at Andrew.Jinks@viennava.gov.