Councilmember Robert E. Cornegy Jr. introduced on Thursday a new, fun and environmentally friendly transportation alternative to the Bedford Stuyvesant community: the e-scooter.
Brooklynites were encouraged to take the scooters on a free test spin around Restoration Plaza. California-based startup Bird provided the devices and is currently working with the city council to establish a scooter-sharing program in NYC, similar to Citi Bike or the e-moped program Revel that recently launched in Bushwick.
For Cornegy, it is crucial to bring alternative transpiration methods and new technology to communities like Bedford Stuyvesant. E-scooters would expand transit options for low-income communities and those that live in transit deserts across the city, he said.
"It is incredibly important to bring it here to Bedford Stuyvesant because characteristically minority communities are at the tail end of new technology," said Cornegy. "And we have an opportunity to change that narrative."
Bird, which is already established in 30 cities around the country, works like many other ride-share programs: Users pay $1 to start and 15 cents a minute; the initial $1 fee will be waived for SNAP recipients. According to the company, an average ride would cost roughly $1.90 -- or 90 cents for SNAP recipients — less than a single ride with MTA.
The electric scooters are completely motorized and emissions-free and therefore present an environmentally-friendly transportation alternative. The e-scooters are small, lightweight, easy to maneuver and less likely to impede the public right of way, states Bird. And to keep the riders and pedestrians safe: The speed of all scooters is capped at 15 mph, all riders must be at least 18 years old and have a valid driver's license, and Bird provides free helmets for all active users.
Aside from the fun and recreational benefits e-scooters bring, Cornegy also believes the scooters could help attract more visitors from surrounding neighborhoods to Bed-Stuy's commercial corridors.
"There is a family and recreation portion, but there is also the overarching idea that we can begin to reconnect communities in a very inexpensive way," said Cornegy. "This is a way to connect with neighboring communities such as Crown Heights and Bushwick, to introduce Bed-Stuy proper and our commercial corridors to our neighbors, and to increase foot traffic around our small businesses."
Currently, e-scooters are not permitted in NYC. Councilmembers Rafael Espinal and Ydanis Rodriguez, who chairs the Transportation Committee, are working on a bill that would legalize electric transportation devices such as e-scooters and to make sure that these technologies are rolled out in a way that makes sense for New York. Espinal and Rodriguez plan to introduce the legislation in late September or early October.