Bird scooters may be migrating back to Oxford


E-scooters have become a common sight around Uptown Oxford, such as in this designated parking spot just off High Street. Photo by Abby Jeffrey

By AbJeffrey

Oxford may soon have two more e-scooter companies vying for space on the streets of the city, according to Economic Development Director Alan Kyger.

“At the end of last week, I had two inquiries on the City of Oxford e-scooter rules and regulations,” Kyger said. “One from Bird and one from VeoRide,”

Bird, based in California, was the first e-scooter company to come to Oxford, arriving last October, and was quickly followed by Lime, also a California-based company. But after taking its scooters off the street during the cold winter weather, Bird did not come back in the spring, leaving the Oxford market to Lime. A spokesman for Bird could not be reached for a comment on why it may want to return.

VeoRide, based in Chicago, is a company new to the Oxford area, but seems to find the college town an attractive market.

“For Oxford, Ohio, we definitely see the city and university — both are greatly developed in infrastructure, which is bike/scooter-friendly for local residents and students,” Alexi Wang, community engagement manager for VeoRide, told the Observer Thursday.

While Oxford may appear to be a great location, VeoRide does have reservations about bringing a fleet to Oxford because Miami University and the city have different rules and regulations for small motorized vehicles.

“Since there are different regulations for the city and the campus, it is double the work to collaborate with both,” Wang said.

As for potential worries about competition among e-scooter companies, Wang said VeoRide isn’t worried about going up against Lime, and perhaps Bird, in this market.

“I think that competition is healthy,” he said. “This is a booming market and everyone is still learning the system.” Wang also said that VeoRide scooters have features that make them unique.

VeoRide scooters have two mechanical brakes on the handle bars instead of electronic breaks, making them similar to a bicycle and easier to control. They also have a swappable battery instead of needing to be taken to charging stations every evening. That means VeoRide employees could simply walk or drive around town every evening and swap out the batteries, leaving the scooters on the street overnight.

With Lime and Bird, employees have to collect the scooters, take them somewhere to be charged overnight, and then put them back out on the streets early in the morning. VeoRide’s website also boasts a new feature that is scheduled to be used on its scooters in 2020 – a feature in which customers would have to show they are wearing a helmet before they could operate a scooter. 

If all goes according to plan, Wang said VeoRide would like to make Oxford one of its new homes next year.