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Scooters will zip through downtown Medford

Photo courtesy of Bird Rides Medford City Council has approved plans to offer scooter rentals in the city.

A company called Bird Rides Inc. will soon launch a fleet of electric scooters for rent in Medford.

“People like to ride around on these things and have fun,” said Matt Brinkley, director of Medford Planning.

The City Council Thursday night unanimously approved developing a 12-month pilot operating agreement with Bird Rides, which operates in dozens of cities around the U.S., including Portland.

Brinkley said the scooters would provide another transportation option in Medford that could help cut down on emissions.

Councilor Clay Bearnson said he wondered why the proposed agreement doesn’t allow for renting of scooters from midnight to 4 a.m.

“I’m concerned about people going to work and to Harry & David at 4 a.m.,” he said.

The council agreed to negotiate different terms in the agreement to allow for the use of the scooters between those hours.

A company spokeswoman told the council the down time is needed to collect any errant scooters as well as to charge them and to provide any maintenance.

The spokeswoman said she has personally ridden the scooters after midnight in Portland.

Under the agreement with Bird Rides, the maximum operating speed of the scooters would be 20 mph, and riders would have to be a minimum of 18 years old. The scooters also must be ridden on streets and not on sidewalks.

When the scooters are parked, they cannot obstruct sidewalks. Also, the rider is required to take a photo of the parked scooter and text it to the company.

A toll-free number will be provided to alert the company of sidewalks that are blocked or for other issues.

Bird Rides expects to roll out 50 scooters initially, building up to a fleet of 100. For a city the size of Medford, the company ultimately anticipates having 200 scooters available. Local contractors will be tasked with handling the Bird scooters.

Medford previously had a bike-sharing operation not related to Bird Rides that is no longer in operation.

To rent a scooter, you’ll need to download the Bird Rides app and then scan in the QR code to begin the rental, hop on the scooter and go. Scooters can be reserved up to 30 minutes before a ride.

The scooters aren’t required to be docked at a particular location, which could cause issues if they are not properly parked.

This could cause issues for the disabled who have wheelchairs that require sufficient clearance on sidewalks.

According to ridester.com, Bird scooters cost $1 to unlock and from 10 cents to 35 cents per minute to rent, depending on the city.

Reach freelance writer Damian Mann at dmannnews@gmail.com.