MARSHALL — A new way to get around Marshall arrived over the weekend. The electric scooters lined up in spots around downtown are part of a transportation sharing business that is expanding in Minnesota.
Bird, a transportation-sharing company based in California, has rolled out about 25 e-scooters for use in Marshall. The company plans to build that fleet up to around 75 scooters total in the coming weeks, said Marshall Economic Development Authority Director Lauren Deutz.
In May, the city council approved a memorandum of understanding with Bird to launch a trial period of their e-scooters and rental app in Marshall. While Bird is a private business, the city will be monitoring the scooter program to help ensure the public’s safety, Deutz said.
“We are pleased that the Bird e-scooters will provide another viable transportation option for the community of Marshall,” Mayor Bob Byrnes said. “We also anticipate that the service will appeal to our younger demographic as well as visitors to the community.”
Bird has expanded into cities across Minnesota. In June, a fleet of 50 e-scooters were deployed in New Ulm. Another 50 were deployed in Brooklyn Park last week. Bird scooters are also available in Minneapolis, St. Paul, Golden Valley and St. Louis Park.
Several scooters could be seen parked around downtown Marshall on Tuesday morning, but people should keep an eye out for them around the city as well. Deutz said a local fleet manager hired by Bird will keep track of where the e-scooters are used most, and move them to popular locations.
Using the e-scooters starts with downloading the Bird scooter app on a cell phone. The app will show users the locations of available scooters and riding zones. The app allows users to go up to a parked scooter, scan it, and take it for a ride.
In Bird’s presentation to the city council, company representative Mike Butler said scooter rental fees average around $5 a ride.
When riders are done using a Bird scooter, they park it and take a photo of the scooter to prove it has been parked properly. The scooter is then available for another rider to pick up and use.
While Bird did approach the city of Marshall about starting a trial period for its e-scooter services, it is not a city-run service, Deutz said. Bird is an outside company that is operating within the city limits, and has hired its own fleet manager for daily operations in Marshall, she said. Questions or concerns from scooter users should be directed to Bird. More information on the scooter service is available online at Bird’s website, www.bird.co.