Electric scooters sweep the streets of Winona


Heidi Hanson

Winona City Council agreed to partner with Bird to implement 50 scooters around town. The scooters are known to be an environmentally friendly alternative transportation method compared to cars. Theses scooters will remain in Winona until Nov. 1, 2022.

Heidi Hanson, Features Editor

If you have spent any time off campus in the past couple of weeks, chances are you have seen electric scooters either parked or being used around town. Just a couple weeks ago, Winona City Council passed an agreement with world-wide brand Bird Rides and implemented about 50 scooters across Winona. The scooters will be available to ride until Nov. 1, 2022, and they will be available again in the spring.

Each scooter features a QR code that can be scanned with the Bird app, which keeps track of your riding minutes and location while on the scooter for no-zone purposes. For 30 cents a minute, you can ride up to 15 miles per hour around almost all of Winona, with an exception of no zones such as Lake and Levee parks.

On Sept. 6, 2022, Mayor Scott Sherman spoke to Winona State University’s Student Senate regarding the new Bird Scooters. Sherman, who has also worked in the bicycle industry for almost 30 years, explained the convenience of Bird scooters in the town of Winona and as a whole.

Being a student in the early 90s, Sherman stated that friends with cars in college are basically “mythical creatures.” Many students don’t have cars, which is why Bird scooters may act as a convenient source of transportation or “micro-mobility.”

“There’s no reason why we shouldn’t be using alternative transportation more,” Sherman stated after explaining that he uses the Bird scooters rather than a car whenever he has the chance to. Bird scooters are known to be not only convenient but also environmentally friendly compared to cars and other vehicles.
Bird themselves have a statement on their website regarding their efforts toward sustainability.

Winona Mayor Scott Sherman expresses his excitement regarding the Bird scooters in a Winona State University Student Senate meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 6. He stated that the scooters benefit the community in terms of micro-mobility and an overall sense of fun. (Heidi Hanson)

“Bird is committed to enabling a more live-able, sustainable future by reducing gas-powered car trips, traffic, and carbon emissions,” the Bird website states in their mission statement.

Brianna Carman, college of nursing and health science senate seat, president of national residence hall honorary and east lake resident assistant, commented on the convenience of Bird scooters in a college town like Winona.

“I think they’re a great method of transportation for students that don’t have a car here,” Carman said. “They can quickly run to the store, or quickly run down town to do homework at some of the coffeeshops.”

Along with being convenient for transportation, micro-mobility also helps businesses and the surrounding community because of easy mobility downtown. However, this also leads to some of the issues that have been seen with Bird scooters both in Winona and other areas.

Sherman stated that parking issues seem to be the largest inconvenience for Winona businesses and other residents. Scooters have often been found in front of driveways and business entrances, which are illegitimate places to park. The scooters, being rather heavy, have also been found in some unfortunate places, including one in a tree and another sinking to the bottom of the Mississippi river.

Overall safety rules include only having one person on a scooter at a time, not accelerating through slow/no zones, not placing bags on the handlebars and staying on the right hand side of the road when riding. It is also highly recommended to wear a helmet.

To ride a Bird scooter, all that is needed is the app and payment information. It’s a one dollar payment to start the scooter and 30 cents a minute after that. Maps on the app will show slow and no zones throughout town, and the scooter will automatically slow down in these areas.

Mayor Scott Sherman, after going through safety rules and parking issues, reiterated that the main positive of the Bird Scooters in Winona is the amount of fun they can provide.

“I’ve seen little squads of bird scooters riding around town,” Sherman said. “That’s good and that’s fun! That puts smiles on faces.”