SALT LAKE CITY — Rentable electric scooter operator Bird Rides Inc. announced plans this week to launch a new service that will deliver scooters right to riders' front doors and let them keep the vehicle all day.
Bird Delivery, according to company founder/CEO Travis VanderZanden, will aid riders who are looking to make scooters a regular part of their commute and/or short-hop travel plans by adding an option for predictable access.
“Bird was created to provide an equitable, convenient and reliable alternative to short car trips," VanderZanden said in statement. "Since launching, we are continually inspired by riders who opt for Bird rides over traveling by car, and share in the pain of riders when they express frustration about not having consistent and reliable access to Bird.
“With Bird Delivery, we are aiming to address this pain point by guaranteeing they have access to a Bird when and where they need it and throughout the day.”
The Bird announcement did not include details on pricing, how the delivery program would work or how soon it will launch, but VanderZanden told tech website TechCrunch that pricing would "make financial sense" and the service would launch "very soon."
The company also unveiled plans to phase in an updgraded fleet of e-scooters with new models that were custom-designed and manufactured in partnership with China-based Okai.
The new vehicles, according to a company spokeswoman, will feature puncture-proof tires, a redesigned and wider rider deck, batteries with 60 percent longer operating time and a new, digital steering handle display that will indicate speed, battery life and other information.
Salt Lake City, along with Los Angeles, Nashville, Atlanta, Baltimore and Austin will be among the first U.S. cities to beta test the new scooters.
Bird is one of two dockless, on-demand e-scooter services that launched in Salt Lake City this summer and currently deploys about 500 vehicles each day in downtown and surrounding areas.
Dockless companies rent scooters, and bikes in some cities, for rides via a smartphone app, and instead of needing to be returned to a designated location, or dock, they can be left wherever users finish their trips. Locating a scooter to rent is also coordinated by the app, which identifies available vehicles with a digital map.
Bird is operating in about 100 cities, many of which, including Salt Lake City, are working to navigate what, if any, new regulations may be required to keep up with the transportation innovation.
Mayor Jackie Biskupski held a press conference this week to launch a series of safety outreach events, in partnership with Bird and Lime, the two e-scooter companies currently operating here.
While one local hospital recently reported a spike in emergency room visits for scooter-related injuries, it's not clear if data reflects the scooters pose safety concerns more serious than bicycles, skateboards or unpowered scooters.
According to Salt Lake City Council Chairwoman Erin Mendenhall, the foremost concern for city leaders is the interactions of scooter riders, who can travel up to 15 mph, with pedestrians on downtown sidewalks. City ordinance prohibits scooters and bicycle from sidewalks in the city's downtown central business district.
Late last month, Bird announced it reached its 10 millionth ride with 2.1 million unique riders traveling 14.3 million miles in its first year of operations.