Will Bird electric bikes join scooters on Indianapolis streets?

Will Bird ‘cruisers’ join electric scooters, bike share in Indy?

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Electric scooter supplier Bird on Tuesday announced it would be adding electric bicycles to some of its fleets around the world this summer.

The company operates rentable scooters in Indianapolis, but the announcement means the bikes could show up on Indianapolis streets, too. 

The company has described Bird Cruisers as electric bicycles that can hold up to two riders.

While some people downtown sounded excited to try the new technology, they also think the Bird Cruisers could cause some issues.

“Two people is kind of cool. I want to see how it is going to work, you know, trying to get two people on it. But I think it is something where if I see it, I am going to want to try it out,” said Christie Downey, who rides electric scooters.

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Electric scooters have become a popular way for some people to get around downtown.

“When I am on campus at college, I use it about once a week if I am trying to get to class,” Downey said.

But the idea of a larger and faster product from Bird has some people concerned.

“If they are parking them wherever they want, it is going to be just a Bird but bigger,” said Riley Warner, who rides electric scooters.

Some are concerned the bikes will cause safety issues along sidewalks and roadways.

“You can go significantly faster than you can on a purely human-powered bike, so that is something else that the city should be aware of,” said Kären Haley with Indiana Pacers Bikeshare.

If the new cruisers hit Indianapolis streets, they could compete directly with Pacers Bikeshare.

“Sounds just like the bike-share thing we have. I don’t know if they have two-seaters already, but I feel like there are already bikes you can rent to get around town,” Warner said.

Pacers Bikeshare said it doesn’t see a lot of overlap between its membership holders and people who regularly use rentable electric scooters.

“There are groups of people that are always going to choose bikes. There are groups of people who are never going to ride bikes, and then there is a group in between, that is, people who I think are trying to figure out what their best and their preferred mode of transportation is,” Haley said.

But until a more concrete decision is announced, Pacers Bikeshare is choosing to sit back and enjoy the ride.

“More bikes bring more bikes so that is a good thing for Pacers Bikeshare, to have more people riding bikes. It will be interesting, if they choose to come to Indianapolis, how that impacts –or if it does impact —  Pacers Bikeshare,” Haley said.

Bird would have to make the city aware if they were adding to or changing their fleet and officials would have to approve the change, Indianapolis officials said Tuesday. The city said Bird has not done that yet.

News 8 reached out to Bird to see if Indianapolis is in the running for the cruisers. On Tuesday night, the company had not responded.