Bird scooters flying back into Richmond

A quartet of Bird scooters along Broad Street. (BizSense file photo)

Electric scooter giant Bird, whose unannounced launch in Richmond last year prompted the creation of regulations for the dockless, on-demand vehicles, is giving it another go in the city.

The company will begin operations here today, Oct. 15, according to an email sent over the weekend to workers and obtained by BizSense. The email went out to those who’d previously signed up to work as chargers for the company, a job that includes collecting and charging scooters at one’s home, then placing them back on the street the following day.

Bird was the first scooter operator to land in Richmond last year when it unexpectedly put hundreds of scooters on the ground, only for the city to impound them because scooters left on the sidewalks were in violation of local right-of-way laws.

A screenshot taken Tuesday afternoon shows most of Bird’s scooters in the downtown and VCU areas.

Bird’s launch set off a domino effect in City Hall, with Mayor Levar Stoney and Bird reps meeting to discuss a path toward legality. Stoney ultimately penned an ordinance to pave the way for Bird and other scooter operators to launch in Richmond, provided they pay a fee that ranges from $20,000 to $45,000 and obtain a license. City Council approved the ordinance in January.

The first scooter operator to be licensed in the city was Florida-based Bolt, which launched in June.

The city’s Department of Public Works oversees the permitting process, and DPW deputy director Lynne Lancaster confirmed the office has issued a license to Bird.

Bird will start with 150 scooters on the ground, with plans to ramp up to 500, Lancaster said.

The remnants of Bird’s initial launch from last summer recently found new homes last month, as a local towing company began selling off the impounded scooters that Bird never claimed.

A Bird spokeswoman confirmed Tuesday morning that Bird is launching in Richmond this week. In a release, Stoney said the city is pleased Bird has decided to enter the Richmond market.

“We wish Bird success on its official launch, and are grateful to provide yet one more transportation option that makes it easier and more enjoyable to live, work and play in our city,” Stoney said.

Note: This story has been updated to include comments from Bird received after publication.

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