You keep seeing them around Birmingham, but what are they? They’re electric scooters. Are they legal?
1. What Are Bird Scooters?
They are motorized vehicles for adults, and they are popular and controversial in other cities across the U.S. You may have heard about electric scooters being banned in San Francisco. The city recently forbid them from the streets until they issue selective permits for them.
Via the company’s bio:
“Bird is changing the future of transportation by providing an on-demand personal electric vehicle sharing network. We are launching cities across the globe and we are looking for driven individuals to join us as chargers”
With Bird, operators can reserve a local scooter from an app, ride for a small fee and leave the scooter where they please. You can also work for Bird by picking up the scooters and charging them.
Bird Rides Inc. is a startup based in Santa Monica, California. Altogether Bird has raised $418 million since it was founded in April 2017. Led by a former Uber and Lyft executive, Bird continues to expand nationwide, despite the permitting issues in San Francisco and other cities where they’ve launched (like Birmingham).
2. What’s The Controversy?
According to Birmingham City Councilor Darrell O’Quinn, who is also the chair of the council’s transportation committee, the Bird scooters are operating without a business license or a permit. This method of launching the scooters seems to be par for the course for Bird. In Alabama, they also recently launched in Tuscaloosa and Auburn without permits.
According to the Bird app, the scooters in the Birmingham area are mostly located in Homewood, on the UAB campus and Birmingham’s Highland Park neighborhood for now.
3. More Cities, More Problems
Last December, the City of Santa Monica in California filed a criminal case against Bird, over the issue of operating without proper permits. In February, Bird agreed to pay more than a $300,000 settlement to the city.
The Birmingham city council’s transportation committee recently heard from LimeBike, another electric scooter company. They made a presentation to the city, and at the time, Councilor O’Quinn said that the committee is open to hearing about mobility solutions for residents.