Scooting around downtown IM
Fleet of Bird electric scooters can be rented via cell phone app
IRON MOUNTAIN — A new breed of “Bird” has landed in Iron Mountain.
A flock of 50 electric scooters arrived in late June and has received a great response.
Iron Mountain is the first city in the Upper Peninsula to get the two-wheel mobile transportation, Downtown Development Authority Program Director Mindy Wittock said.
“They already are such a hit,” she said. “Every day we see people using them.”
The stand-up scooters are located throughout the downtown district and can be activated by downloading the Bird app onto a cell phone.
The app will open a service map that directs the person to the nearest Bird available, as well riding zones, Wittock explained. They can also be reserved up to 30 minutes in advance.
Riders can tap on the Bird icon for pricing information and to access the vehicle reserve option. Costs is $1 to start the ride and 39 cents a minute to ride.
“Users can buy 5 or 10 minutes at a time or also pay for a fleet of your friends to ride together,” she said.
“The scooters are GPS monitored — once they get past a not-permitted location, they will just stop working,” she said. “They are also not allowed on the highways.”
Riders must be age 18 or older and are required to abide by all local traffic laws, the same as cyclists.
Scooters can be unlocked by tapping on the large button centrally located on the service map. This will open the phone’s camera to scan the QR code at the top of the vehicle. Riders can manually enter the alpha-numeric code below the QR code as well.
To start the scooter, riders will kick forward with their foot to gain momentum and use the thumb accelerator to control the speed and handbrake used to decelerate and stop.
Wittock said the scooters can go up to 15 miles an hour.
“All the information you need to know about them is on the Bird app,” she said.
The DDA has received some concerns about where scooters are ending up after being used. But the Bird company does have a local representative to maintain the scooters.
“They can be left on sidewalks, in front of business or in residential area,” Wittock said. “It’s transportation that’s meant to be used at your convenience.”
As Iron Mountain is a gateway city to the U.P. from Wisconsin, this gives visitors who might be passing through another reason to stop, she said.
“It’s been great just to see more foot traffic downtown,” Wittock said. “I think that is one of the best parts of having the scooters — getting people to our downtown district, where we have so many great shops and restaurants to enjoy.”
No final date has been set when the Birds will be gone for the winter, but they expect it will be late fall. With the positive response, there is a good chance the scooters will return to Iron Mountain next summer, Wittock said.
For more information, go to the website at www.bird.co.