Within the last week, a fleet of 100 electric scooters descended upon Chapel Hill and the UNC campus. Their owners, a growing company named “Bird,” did not tell the town, the school or the public about their new program.
Bird, a California-based company founded last year, brings “e-scooters” to various cities for residents to use. The scooters are unlocked using an app, and after an initial $1 to start the ride, riders pay $0.15 - $0.20 per minute depending on the city. The price in Chapel Hill was $0.20.
But as mysteriously as they arrived, they were gone. Due to public safety concerns, UNC requested the scooters be removed from campus.
“This week, Bird scooters arrived at UNC-Chapel Hill without a partnership agreement with the University," said Brad Ives, associate vice chancellor for Campus Enterprises, via email. "Bird has agreed to voluntarily remove its scooters from UNC-Chapel Hill while the University explores the possibility of a partnership with the company. This partnership would be subject to reasonable safety and financial considerations in compliance with all regulations concerning partnerships with public institutions in North Carolina.”
The company brought the scooters to campus as part of a “pop-up tour” on over 150 campuses nationwide. Mackenzie Long, a public relations officer from Bird, said the shared electric scooters are meant to be used over short distances and can be accessed almost anywhere.