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Fairfield joins electric scooter sharing pilot program – CT Insider

A bird E-scooter
FAIRFIELD — Downtown Fairfield might have a little more buzzing, or maybe whirring, after the selectmen agreed to join a pilot program that would make dozens of electric scooters available for people to borrow in town.
Mark Barnhart, the town’s director of community and economic development, said officials had been looking at the program with Bird Rides Inc. for some time and spoke with other communities about their experience with having electric scooters in town.
The contract, which the Board of Selectmen approved this week, allows Bird Rides to operate in Fairfield for 12 months. That would give the town the opportunity to evaluate consumer demand, as well as assess any operational issues, Barnhart said at the recent BOS meeting.
“We have been looking at Bird for some time now,” he said. “One of the things with Bird is that they provide a local fleet manager that is responsible for overseeing the fleet. Bird is also more responsible to smaller communities in providing smaller fleets that are more appropriate for communities of this size.”
Barnhart said his office proposed an initial fleet of 50 to 75 electric scooters that would be available for the public to rent. Last month, Ansonia’s Board of Aldermen approved a similar contract to bring the scooters there.
A local supervisor would be in the area to make sure the scooters are maintained, charged relocated when they need to be, Barnhart said.
There is not cost to the town. The agreement actually includes modest profit sharing, Barnhart said
“They will provide the standard insurance and identification requirements consistent with our requirements,” he said.
Kupchick said her administration was skeptical at first, and asked Barnhart’s office the same question she was sure the public would.
“Do we need these? We’ve all read articles and probably seen on the news. In some places they’ve been you just hear about them being dumped and left and they become a bit of a nuisance,” she said. “We asked all those questions when it was first proposed to us.”
Kupchick said officials felt like it would be an interesting thing to try after Bird Rides answered their questions.
Barnhart said his office had talked to other communities in this program as far away as Kansas or North Carolina and as close to home as New York and Connecticut about their experiences.
“We’ve gotten favorable comments and reviews in terms of Bird’s responsiveness,” he said.
He also noted both Police Chief Robert Kalamaras and Fairfield’s Bicycle and Pedestrian Committee support trying the program.
Barnhart said a pilot would be a great way for the town to try it out without making a long-term commitment.
Selectwoman Nancy Lefkowitz said she has both a healthy optimism and skepticism of the program.
“I’m supportive of it, because I think we won’t know until we try it,” she said. “I’ve been in communities where they’ve had successful programs and I’ve used the product, and I think it’s something that we should try to see — because why not? If it doesn’t work, hopefully we’ve lost nothing but time and the investment of some energy and some resources.”
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