Bird flocks to Starkville: is the return of the scooters a blessing or a menace?

Bird scooters, Starkville's newest electric scooters, are controversial among MSU students and Starkville locals.

Motorized scooters have returned to Starkville, this time in the form of Bird scooters. The reactions of students and locals to these electric scooters is anything but unanimous. Some are very excited to see the scooters around town and have taken advantage of the ride, but some only see the potential dangers of the scooters.

There were concerns with the Lime scooters which caused the company to take all their scooters and bikes out of Starkville. The use of scooters on campus was considered dangerous to both riders and drivers. To prevent this from happening again, Bird placed a “No Ride or Park” zone around Mississippi State University’s campus, and the scooters will not work there. 

Despite their efforts, Starkville Mayor Lynn Spruill says she does not think this will fix the problem.

“I don’t think it’s going to be any different. 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,” Spruill said.

It was for these reasons and others that the aldermen of Starkville voted to ban the scooters. However, Bird was able to work out enough safety measures to convince them to lift the ban. 

Bird has provided a convenient app to make it easier to find, pay for and ride their scooters. In addition to campus, the scooters are not allowed on Highway 12. The cost to ride a Bird scooter is $1 to start and 39 cents per minute.

Not all MSU students are enamored with electric scooters. Junior industrial engineering major Cameron Fowler had an especially bad experience with the scooters.

“I don’t like them because I got hit by one … Needless to say I was pretty mad about it but there wasn’t really anything I could do about it because he was already gone ... I hold a grudge against all motorized scooters,” Fowler said. 

Fowler admitted he had not been hit by the Bird scooters specifically; it was a different kind of motorized scooter, but he hated them nonetheless. He also said he had never ridden one. 

Samuel Graham, a junior civil engineering major at MSU, also disapproved of the motorized scooters.

“I think scooters are stupid. There’s a guy that passes me every day and almost hits me and almost hits other people; they're dangerous. The people don't use their bells and they’re unnecessary,” Graham said. 

Bird claims their scooters are helpful for the earth. According to their website, Bird aims to reduce CO2 emissions and create a healthier environment overall. 

“Bird’s mission is to create a more livable future by reducing car trips, traffic and carbon emissions. Globally, our shared e-scooter services were climate neutral in 2020 and we take our entire lifecycle into consideration to make our mission come to life responsibly.”

While the public may not be able to decide how they feel about the arrival of Bird Scooters, everyone is interested to see how long they stick around.

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