Dockless Scooters Debut Here
Company called Bird drops approximately 60 scooters on city streets; is it legal?
Dockless scooters have arrived in Milwaukee.
Bird, one of many entrants into the upstart market, dropped off a number of electric scooters in the Historic Third Ward today. A representative of the for-profit company declined to identify how many scooters were deployed, but a quick scan of the available scooters shows approximately 60 available.
The scooters, which can be unlocked using a smartphone for $1.00 plus 15 cents per minute, are intended for short trips around urban areas. To use the scooters, the Bird app can be found in both Android and iOs in the app stores.
Unlike dock-based systems like Bublr Bikes, the scooters can simply be left wherever the ride ends. The company contracts with individuals to pick up the scooters every night to be charged.
The ability to leave the scooter wherever one wants will likely be something the city seeks to regulate.
Bird does offer a “Save our Sidewalks” pledge that says the company will collaborate with city officials wherever they deploy scooters, including revenue sharing, but no such agreement was in place when the company dropped off its scooters today. Alderman Robert Bauman, who chairs the Public Works Committee, told Urban Milwaukee he supports the city taking possession of the scooters if they’re found to be in violation of city ordinances.
Bird isn’t the only company eyeing the Milwaukee market. Discussions are underway with dockless bicycle and scooter provider Limebike with regard to creating a regulatory framework for the new technology.
The issue of regulating dockless bicycles and electric scooters is still unsettled and has mixed results across the country. The bikes and scooters can pile up on the sidewalks, blocking access for pedestrians. They can also become abandoned as many of the companies rely on a large infusion of capital and simply drop the bikes off in a city. Other cities like Chicago have attempted to address equity issues as part of regulation by requiring bikes be deployed only in certain areas.
At a Bike to Work press conference held in early June, council president Ashanti Hamilton biked to City Hall on a Limebike and described his ride as a positive experience. He told Urban Milwaukee that representatives from his office and other city departments intended to engage Limebike in a discussion about how the company’s technology could be deployed across the city.
The city will also have to grapple with how to create an ordinance that reflects its investment in the non-profit, socially-minded Bublr Bikes. The docked bike share organization routinely rebalances its stations to ensure bikes are available, including a large staff presence at Summerfest and other major events. The non-profit, in a partnership with the city, has also invested in stations at Housing Authority of the City of Milwaukee buildings and extremely low-cost memberships for low-income residents.
Bublr, which relies on Trek’s B-Cycle technology, is exploring the use of dockless decks to augment its fleet.
However the regulatory framework shakes out, the scooters are yet another option making it easier for people to ditch their car and seek a more flexible form of transportation. As with Bublr Bikes, it won’t be long before you see people actually enjoying their commute rather than stuck in traffic in their Lexus cages.
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Read more about Bird vs Milwaukee Controversy here