While many go to Resorts World Casino New York City in South Ozone Park to gamble, City Council Members Adrienne Adams and Donovan Richards were there on Oct. 16 to host the first ever e-scooter demonstration in Queens as a way to increase awareness of a new possible form of public transportation.
The e-scooters that they tested at the casino’s parking lot were from Bird Rides an E-Scooter Share Service, which provides affordable, safe and emission-free electric scooters, according to Adams’ office.
“With a failing transit system, we need to expand transportation options especially in New York City’s transportation deserts like southeast Queens,” said Adams. “E-scooters are an affordable and environmentally sound alternative that warrants thoughtful consideration and represents an innovative solution to the city’s transit woes.”
Presently, however, e-scooters and certain other electric vehicles are outlawed; anyone caught using one faces a $500 fine and could also have the vehicle impounded, under New York State law.
Bird Rides, however, is thriving in 100 U.S. markets including Washington D.C. and in states like California, Texas and Oregon. Customers only need to unlock the service with an app on their smartphones for $1 to ride the scooters for 15 cents per minute, according to Adams’ office.
“As a lifelong resident of a true transit desert in Southeast Queens, I know how important it is for communities such as mine to support and rally around new alternatives to the mass transit options we’ve had to endure for decades,” Richards said. “Taking buses to the subway just isn’t reliable enough and taking the Long Island Rail Road is far too expensive for most. Taking advantage of new ride shares, dockless bikes and scooters will help us bridge the transportation divide that has no signs of improving in the near future. Affordable options such as Bird Scooter will give some residents another option without overburdening their wallet, while also helping to reduce congestion and alleviate the overburdened subways.”
Legislation from the City Council could pave the way for e-scooter operation in Queens and throughout the city. Members of the City Council’s Transportation Committee, including its chair, Ydanis Rodriguez, are currently working to introduce such a bill at City Hall.
“The potential for legislation is still being researched right now,” said Maria Henderson, a spokeswoman for the Manhattan-based Rodriguez. “The Committee on Transportation is looking to see if it is feasible for New York City to do this and we are looking at other municipalities and seeing what they have done.”
Rodriguez’s office is hoping to have a draft for the legislation within a month, but there are no guarantees on a set timeline.
“He has always been an advocate for alternative modes of transportation that are green options,” said Henderson. “Reducing emissions, reducing congestion … he has always been a big proponent of those things.”