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Bird’s Shifting Boundaries Exclude Some Neighborhoods

Brent Warren Brent Warren Bird’s Shifting Boundaries Exclude Some NeighborhoodsPhoto by Walker Evans.
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For about a week-and-a-half, Bird scooters could not be rented or parked in Franklinton, Linden or the Near East Side.

The reduction in the service area seems to have happened around March 18 — that’s when Franklinton residents first started taking on social media to note that their neighborhood was now completely shaded out on the Bird app.

The shaded area was labelled as a “No Ride or Park Zone,” along with a text box that states; “Bird is currently unavailable here. Move outside this area to ride or park.”

The no-ride/no-park zone also included the Scioto Audubon Park and any neighborhood east of I-71 or Parsons Avenue, including the King-Lincoln District and Olde Towne East.

Regulations established by the city last fall require that scooters be available in a variety of neighborhoods, not just Downtown (the specific language calls for no more than a quarter of a company’s fleet located within Downtown’s boundaries, and at least 20 percent placed in one of the city’s designated opportunity neighborhoods).

Columbus Underground reached out to Bird and to the City of Columbus on March 26 to see if either had a comment on the new restrictions.

“These are new boundaries initiated by Bird,” said Debbie Briner, Community Relations Coordinator of the Department of Public Service. “We are reviewing them and will be reminding the vendor of the requirements of its lease and permit agreement with the City of Columbus.”

A Bird spokesperson also replied, but did not immediately provide a comment.

Shortly after those two exchanges, the Bird map changed again, adding Franklinton back into service area. And, as of earlier this week, the Near East Side, Linden and South Side neighborhoods east of Parsons have all been green-lit for Bird rental and parking again.

A Bird spokesperson provided the following statement late last week: “We are in compliance with the terms of our operating agreement with the City of Columbus, and we hope to continue to work closely with city officials to grow and evolve our service in the city.”

The same spokesperson, who asked not to be identified by name, said that Bird often changes its service map in the different markets in which it operates, in response to fluctuations in demand.

Additional Reading: The Scooter Numbers Are In

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