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Mason City council approves agreement to establish an on-demand electric scooter program

Photo of electric scooters from Bird Rides' Facebook page

MASON CITY — Stand-up electric scooters are coming to Mason City.

The City Council in Mason City last night approved a memorandum of understanding with a company called Bird Rides of Santa Monica California to establish an on-demand scooter program. Users would utilize a smartphone app to locate an available scooter and enable billing the user for their time riding it, but unlike a similar bike sharing program in Mason City, the scooter would not be tied to a station or any specific location and may be picked up or abandoned anywhere, with each scooter being monitored wirelessly by Bird so they are aware if a scooter has been damaged or stolen.

City Administrator Aaron Burnett says the agreement would be a one-year pilot to see how the program works.   “It’s hard to really know what sort of usage you’ll see in Mason City. In larger communities, you see a lot of usage, they are very popular. The whole micro-mobility movement really goes towards trying to create more walkable, dense urban areas, and I think that’s something that Mason City seen some success in with recent housing.”

Burnett says adding scooters could help address any transportation need issues in the downtown area.  “If we can continue to make it easier to live car-free, then I think we can draw more people to our downtown, or limited usage, not a car for every single person in a family, something along those lines. These scooters will definitely help with that mobility in the downtown, and we’ll have to continue to track those and make sure we bring that back to council for their consideration in the out years.”

Burnett says Bird has this program in many larger cities and now they are looking to expand into smaller communities.  “I will say it’s not unique to us. They are working with cities all across the state of Iowa and into Minnesota. Bird has aggressively pursued kind of the smaller markets like Mason City.”

Bird Rides currently operate in Minneapolis, Kansas City, St. Louis and Lincoln Nebraska in the Upper Midwest. 

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