ABILENE, Texas (KTAB) – In an unexpected move, Bird Scooters have descended on Abilene, literally overnight. The sudden influx was a partial shock, because they were already expected in town, but only on the campus of ACU.
The idea to bring Bird to campus was the brainchild of Student Government Association Executive President Ty Kelley. On a trip to the nation’s capitol, he encountered the scooters, and made it his mission to bring them back. He says, “We thought this would be a great way for our students, especially our international students who don’t have access to cars, access to surrounding grocery stores and restaurants around campus.”
ACU is only the second college to sign on with Bird Scooters. They got around 70 of the electric two-wheelers. The surprise came when another two dozen or so were deposited at different street corners downtown.
Assistant Abilene City Manager Michael Rice says that portion of the partnership was unexpected: “We were not aware that they were being dropped off downtown, at least to my knowledge. But we’re not opposed to them having some type of new opportunity in the downtown area, or in the rest of Abilene.”
Even with the City in favor of the new transportation, there are still questions about how the scooters fit with current ordinances. Rice explains, “There are some state requirements concerning the use of bicycles, things of that nature. This may fall within the same category. Since this is a new area for us, we’re going to have to do a little checking just to make sure we understand the legal boundaries and what’s allowed.”
In the meantime, people have taken notice of the new arrivals. Although there’s been a mixed response, the citizens who spoke with KTAB were generally in favor of this new way to get around town. For example, Abilene resident John Scott thinks the scooters could, “help create dynamism downtown, because people are able to get around easier.”
The scooters are ready for use, but as the City works to decide just how to legally operate them, it’s a good idea to err on the side of caution. Follow the safety guidelines printed on the scooter, and keep a helmet handy. Stick to the road, rather than sidewalks, and when you do, watch out for the surprisingly quick speeds that can approach 15 miles per hour.