City of Bend adding incentives — and penalties — to address issues with Bird e-bikes being left around town
Riders love them -- but others unhappy with where they're being left
(Update: Adding video, comments from City of Bend, Bend residents)
BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- One month in, Bend's new Bird electric bike rental program has seen success, but not without some complaints about them being left scattered around town.
Tobias Marx, parking services manager with the city of Bend, said the bikes are sometimes left on sidewalks, or in front of parks or houses.
“I think the major concern is that bikes are left in areas where people are not used to it,” Marx said Tuesday.
Chad Dyess, a retired veteran who’s lived in Bend his whole life, said he does not enjoy seeing the bikes left out.
“People in Bend pay a lot of money for their houses. Last thing we want is a random bike in our front yard,” Dyess said.
Marx said the city started with 16 official parking areas and is actively adding more.
“It’s much easier to find a preferred parking area or a "nest," or a Bird's nest, if you know where they are, and if there are many of them,” Marx said.
They’re also adding a new system to incentivize leaving your bike in the right area, and after a warning, punishing you if you don’t.
With this system, if at the end of a ride you leave it at the side of the road or sidewalk, you’d pay full price, and possibly even an extra fee.
However, if you find the closest parking area and leave the bike there, you pay the normal price -- and could get a discount or a coupon.
Chess still isn’t sold.
“Don’t get me wrong, I think it's a great idea. I do believe we need to move more into clean energy,” Dyess said. “But I think at this time in Bend, it’s not what we need.”
However, Marx said most of the feedback so far has been positive.
Taylor Gederos, a real estate agent for Re/Max in Bend, said she’s glad they’re here.
“So we’ve been seeing these bikes around all the time, and we were like, ‘Hey, let's just try out the bikes and ride them around’ -- and we had so much fun!” Gederos said.
Marx said there were almost 1,300 riders in the first week of June, with the numbers going up every day.
Gederos loved the experience.
“It made me feel like a kid again,” he said. “We literally were only going to go for 10 minutes, and we ended up going for 40 minutes because it was super easy, felt comfortable and very fun.”
In terms of rider safety, Marx said more people using these bikes actually opens up the bigger conversation.
“It shows us that we have some need to address bike safety in the city, across the board,” Marx said.
For now, he hopes to make this system, a pilot program, work as best as possible.
“I think that’s the idea of learning while we are moving forward with it to fine-tune and make it better,” Marx said.
Marx said if you see a bike in a spot it shouldn’t be, you can report it on the city of Bend website, or on the Bird app itself.
That helps notify Bird's bike collection staff as quickly as possible.