Bird wants to take over Birmingham with electric scooters, and the $2 billion company doesn’t seem to care about regulations

Birmingham, Alabama, bird scooters
Bird scooters parked in front of the Clubhouse on Highland. Photo by Pat Byington for Bham Now

Yeah, it’s more of a world-domination thing with Bird electric scooters. Why? To get people out of cars. Electric scooters are a thing, people. They’re everywhere!

Birmingham, Alabama, Bird, scooter
The Bird electric scooters do not require a docking station and are considered to be shared mobility devices. Photo via Bird

But, First The News

You may have seen, heard and read about Birmingham and Homewood impounding Bird’s electric scooters. So much social media chatter, too! They debuted  in Birmingham on August 28.

Birmingham, Alabama, Bird
@drfresky styling and profiling on a Bird electric scooter. Photo via Bird, Instagram

Scooter Specs

  • The scooters can go up to 15 miles per hour.
  • Rent them via an app and pay $1 to unlock and about $0.15 to ride per minute.
  • They operate on the same lithium ion batteries that cell phones and tablets use.

Here’s The Controversy

Birmingham and Homewood say the company does not have a business license to operate in either city. The City of Birmingham released a statement after the Birmingham Police Department began impounding Bird’s scooters on Monday.

“Birmingham welcomes innovation and innovators. But, in order to create the environment for creativity and progress to thrive, businesses need to follow processes that promote fairness,” Birmingham spokesperson Rick Journey said in a statement.

Bird responded by applying for a business license to operate in Birmingham. We’ll let you know when and if it’s approved.

Birmingham, Alabama, scooters, LimeBike
Limescooters are a thing, too. Photo via Lime

Here’s More

  • Birmingham police say they impounded about 40 scooters.
  • Birmingham police issued Bird a citation for doing business without a city license. Court costs and fines total $371.
  • On Monday the City of Homewood placed a 60-day moratorium on Bird electric scooters to consider if their citizens want them, and if so, how to regulate them.
Screenshot 20180912 091754 crop 540x588 Bird wants to take over Birmingham with electric scooters, and the $2 billion company doesn't seem to care about regulations
Nashville musician Bones Owens and a pal on Bird scooters. Photo via Bones Owens

Wait, More Scooters?!

Remember when the city’s transportation committee heard a presentation from LimeBike? Well, they’ve rebranded as Lime, and they’ve joined the electric-scooter race, too. Stay tuned to see which one of these companies (or both) stay and do business in the Birmingham-metro area.

“In this case, a competing firm has approached city officials with a thoughtful proposal,” Journey said. We cannot let another company operate without approval when a competitor is using the proper channels to enter our market.

“Innovation and free enterprise rely on an even chance for each competing firm to succeed and allowing Bird to continue in its current form would violate that basic principle.”

Birmingham, Alabama, scooter
Electric scooters are not just invading America, y’all. They’re everywhere. In Paris, France, Bird and LimeBike debuted earlier this year. Photo via Lime

Bird: The ‘Electric Scooter Unicorn’

Here’s the thing: urban mobility devices are here, and they have big money. Bird was valued at $1 billion earlier this year, and then, two weeks later, was valued at $2 billion. That’s crazy talk in the startup worldeven for Silicon Valley.

Vanity Fair” dubbed Bird “the first electric-scooter unicorn,” and for good reason. Bird is operating (illegally and legally) in over 20 U.S. cities, along with Paris, France and Tel Aviv, Israel.

Former Uber and Lyft executive Travis VanderZanden founded Bird in Santa Monica, California, and experts in the global transport market (that means NOT cars) continue to hail him as a short-transportation genius.

What About Those Regulations?

The regulation issue has been par for the Bird course, with Bird paying fines and eventually working out regulations with the cities where they’ve deployed the scooters, or not. It’s the ask for forgiveness rather than permission model. It sure has created a buzz.

Birmingham, Alabama, Bird, electric scooter
The dockless, electric Bird scooters have made their way to Birmingham.

Lime is raising $500 million in funding, according to Axios, and Uber just purchased the e-bike company Jump. Lyft is looking into the scooter industry, too. So, yeah. Electric scooters have landed. Do you think they’ll stay?


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