Lawmakers Legalize Scooters
City poised to update its regulations in response, clearing way for Bird to return.
The Wisconsin State Legislature has cleared the legal road for electric scooters to return to Milwaukee streets in the coming weeks.
The Wisconsin State Assembly took the final steps to approve statewide legalization last week. The bill, approved on a voice vote, and approved last month by the state Senate, now awaits the signature of Governor Tony Evers.
Rentable scooters from California-based Bird made a brief debut on city streets last summer before the office of independently-elected City Attorney Grant Langley filed an injunction, claiming the vehicles were being operated in violation of state law because they do not comply with established federal safety standards. But before the Milwaukee Police Department was authorized to begin impounding the hundreds of scooters sitting on sidewalks, Bird came to an agreement with city officials to suspend operating until state law was changed.
The bill creates a framework for electric scooters that is similar to that of bicycles, often by simply inserting the word “electric scooter” into existing state law. Usage of the scooters would be restricted virtually everywhere that bicycles are, including freeways and the Kettle Moraine State Forest.
In response to the pending change in state law, the city is poised to update its regulations. It previously passed an ordinance change to legalize the scooters through a pilot program once the state updated its statutes, but a proposal from Alderman Robert Bauman would streamline the city’s governance.
Under Bauman’s proposal both dockless scooters and dockless bike-sharing systems would be classified as “mobility devices” and required to participate in pilot programs administered by the Department of Public Works. The mobility devices would be subject to a $100 redemption fee should they be impounded for operating outside of the previously-authorized pilot program. Bird deployed the scooters last summer without notifying the city.
Bird and competitor Lime both operate scooter rental services across the globe. The companies have found themselves with legal challenges in many markets across the United States. Police in Milwaukee ticketed one rider for a crash on a Lower East Side sidewalk.
Bird, the only scooter provider to operate in Milwaukee to date, offers vehicles that unlock using a smartphone for $1.00 plus 15 cents per minute. The scooters are intended for short trips around urban areas.
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.
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Related Legislation: File 190443
- Transportation: Scooters Could Return To City In May - Jeramey Jannene - Mar 10th, 2021
- City Hall: Scooters Could Return to Milwaukee - Jeramey Jannene - Sep 30th, 2020
- Transportation: Lime Unveils ‘Group Ride’ Scooters - Jeramey Jannene - Sep 6th, 2019
- Transportation: Lime Debuts New Scooter - Jeramey Jannene - Aug 28th, 2019
- Transportation: Who Has the Cheapest Scooter? - Jeramey Jannene - Aug 14th, 2019
- Transportation: City Will Double Number of Permitted Scooters, Ends “Pause” - Jeramey Jannene - Aug 10th, 2019
- Transportation: City Blocking New Scooters, 100+ Complaints About Bad Riders - Jeramey Jannene - Aug 2nd, 2019
- Transportation: The Scooters Are Here! - Jeramey Jannene - Jul 23rd, 2019
- Transportation: Three Scooter Companies Apply to Operate in Milwaukee - Jeramey Jannene - Jul 19th, 2019
- Transportation: Scooters Legalized But Not on Sidewalks - Jeramey Jannene - Jul 9th, 2019
Read more about Bird vs Milwaukee Controversy here