UND set to welcome e-scooters to campus
Birds are expected to start flocking soon to the UND campus, and people will be welcome to hop aboard one and ride.
That’s because these Birds are the dock-free, low-speed electric scooters made by Bird Rides, Inc., a micromobility company based in Miami. Pending final approval of a permit from the City of Grand Forks, some 75 to 100 Birds are likely to be deployed, with more being expected over the coming weeks until the total reaches about 140, said Bird spokesperson Kylee Floodman.
Once the Birds are available, users will first have to download Bird’s mobile-phone app. The app shows available scooters and their locations. Scanning the QR code on the scooter will finalize the rental, and travel cost will be deducted from the rider’s credit or debit card account.
Rides will cost $1 to start up and 39 cents per minute afterward, so there will be no University funding involved. Riders are instructed to stay off of sidewalks and use bike lanes when available or ride along the side of the road, and are advised to wear a helmet.
The scooters will be collected when they need to be recharged or repaired, then redeployed at established locations around campus.
“UND Student Government is incredibly excited about the launch of Bird scooters on campus,” said Faith Wahl, UND’s student body president.
“We recognize that these devices provide an opportunity for multimodal transportation for students and have the potential to connect students with the greater Grand Forks community.
“Throughout the implementation process, our top concern will be student safety, and we are working closely with other UND departments to ensure that the launch of these scooters will be a convenient, affordable and secure method of transportation for UND students,” Wahl continued.
Cassie Gerhardt, associate vice president for student affairs, agreed. “Student leaders have been talking about bringing scooters to Grand Forks and UND since 2018, so it is exciting that the scooters will soon arrive,” Gerhardt said.
“I hope that the scooters are a useful mode of transportation for our students, and that the scooters make it easier for students to explore more parts of the Grand Forks community.”
Pending the approval of the City of Grand Forks permit, riders will be able to operate the scooters only within the University limits. But Bird is in the process of finalizing a fuller agreement with Grand Forks, so the scooters likely will be operable off-campus starting sometime in September, Floodman said.
When winter weather arrives, Bird will collect its scooters for “hibernation.” The scooters then will be redeployed in the spring.
The scooters are limited to a maximum speed of 15 mph. The company offers a number of features to its riders, including:
Community Pricing: Bird’s Community Pricing Program offers a 50 percent discount to low-income riders, Pell grant recipients, select local nonprofit and community organizations, veterans and senior citizens.
Those who qualify can sign up by downloading the Bird app, creating an account and emailing proof of eligibility to email@example.com.
Community Mode: Riders can report or provide feedback on vehicle-related issues such as poorly parked or damaged vehicles in their area by tapping the yield sign on the bottom left of the in-app Bird map, or by contacting Bird at firstname.lastname@example.org, a UND-specific email account. When a report is submitted, someone is assigned to correct the issue
“We applaud UND for its commitment to offering convenient, environmentally friendly and reliable transportation options to students, visitors, and faculty and staff,” said Austin Marshburn, head of City and University Partnerships at Bird.