As coronavirus restrictions ease, scooters return to Atlanta’s streets
As businesses reopen and traffic builds ahead of the Fourth of July weekend, two e-scooter companies have announced their return to Atlanta’s streets. CHRISTINA MATACOTTA / Christina.Matacotta@ajc.com
Continuing Coverage: E-scooters
By Raisa Habersham
July 1, 2020
As businesses reopen and traffic builds ahead of the Fourth of July weekend, two e-scooter companies have announced their return to Atlanta’s streets.
Spin scooters on Wednesday deployed 500 electric scooters in parts of Atlanta, including downtown, Midtown, the city’s Westside, and the Beltline, according to a news release. The company plans to ultimately increase its fleet of two-wheeled scooters to 1,500.
The scooter company sees an opportunity in commuters rethinking how they get to their offices, once workplaces open back up.
“Knowing that Atlanta has already started its reopening of the city, this could be a great option for employees as they head back to work and residents looking for a safe way to get around town,” Spin senior communications manager Maria Buczkowski said in a news release.
At the start of the city’s shutdown, Atlanta deemed scooters nonessential businesses, clearing them from the city’s streets and sidewalks. At the time, the four scooter companies licensed to do business in the city — Bird, Uber Jump, Boaz, and Wheels —shut down services in Atlanta and in other major U.S. cities due to the virus outbreak.
Bird returned to Atlanta on Wednesday. “We’ve found that rides are longer than pre-pandemic rides as people are excited to get back on e-scooters,” spokeswoman Natalie Sawyer said in a news release announcing the return.
The popular, California-based scooter company recently resumed service in more than 60 other cities globally, including Orlando, Memphis, and Nashville, according to the news release. It is also offering two free 30-minute rides per day to healthcare workers and emergency personnel during the coronavirus pandemic.
Earlier this year, Atlanta decided to limit the number of scooter companies in the city in order to cut down on sidewalk clutter and better regulate the companies. Four companies — Bird, Helbiz, Spin and VeoRide — were approved to operate in the city. This week’s scooter launch is the first phase of the city’s scooter program, according to a news release from the city.
The four-phased plan will roll out over the next few weeks and includes increasing fleet sizes and adjusting them depending on the operations and public health needs, according to the news release.
“Atlanta, like many major cities, understands the need to present options of various modes of transportation,” Department of Transportation Commissioner Josh Rowan said in the release. “Dockless mobility devices are just one part of this equation. Our goal is to ensure we adhere to the input we received under our previous program and to improve our delivery in addressing the city’s transportation needs.”
Each company is also required to give the city an operational protocol that includes implementing social distancing and sanitation guidelines to keep riders safe from coronavirus, according to the release.