Bird scooters have arrived in Starkville.
Bird, an electric scooter ride-sharing service, delivered a fleet of 25 scooters to the city Tuesday. Mayor Lynn Spruill said she has been communicating with Bird, and the company has a privilege license to conduct business in the city.
“We’ve been communicating with the company by email, so I’m aware the scooters are here,” Spruill said.
Users can reserve Bird scooters via the company’s mobile app. In order to take a trip, a user supplies payment information and scans a QR code on the scooter starting the ride. The user must take a photo of the stationed scooter at the end of the trip, and money is directly taken out from the user’s credit card.
Spruill said she has seen a few scooters downtown but does not know where they are all stationed across Starkville. Scooter locations will appear on the mobile app.
This is not the first time a company renting scooters tried to do business in Starkville. In 2019, Lime brought its scooters to town but had some issues with Mississippi State University.
MSU allowed Lime bicycles on-campus but not the scooters, Jeremiah Dumas, MSU executive director of parking and transit services, told the Dispatch in 2019. However, users still brought them onto campus, causing sometimes dangerous conditions such as people hitting cars. Lime decided to pull out of its agreement in Starkville after the continuous complications with the university.
Dumas confirmed Wednesday the university will not allow Bird scooters on campus either. If scooters are found on MSU’s campus, he said, parking and transit services will confiscate the scooters and report back to Bird.
Natalie Sawyer, a spokesperson for Bird, said in an email to The Dispatch that the company brought the scooters to Starkville with the intention to satisfy the transportation needs of residents and visitors. She said Bird has been in contact with the university about the no-scooter policy, and the company will be utilizing its technological capabilities by placing a geofence, or virtual perimeter, around the campus.
The geofence appears on the Bird app as a “No Ride or Park Zone” surrounding MSU. This zone is a red area on the app map and is restricted for users to ride or park there.
Dumas said Bird has assured him the company is taking preventive measures to ensure no scooters will be on campus.
“We have had a discussion with Bird, and we’ve asked that campus be protected, and scooters cannot come on campus,” Dumas said. “We do that because of concerns of safety.”
Spruill said that she does not think the scooters will be any better than the situation with Lime.
“I don’t think it’s going to be any different,” Spruill said. “I had a full disclosure discussion with them about the fact that the university was not going to allow scooters on campus. If they came to Starkville, they came at their own business risk.”