Bird scooters have flown the coop, but are expected to return.
After weeks of battling with city officials, the company has agreed to remove its scooters from the streets of Milwaukee — as both sides work to make the popular vehicles a permanent and legal fixture in the city.
The city announced the development on Monday in a news release, which also stated that the city and Bird are working together on a scooter sharing program set to launch once scooters are officially legal under state law.
That would require either clarification on the status of e-scooters from state officials or action from the Legislature and Gov. Scott Walker, removing restrictions on e-scooters. As the Legislature does not reconvene until January, Bird scooters could be off the streets for another five months, at a minimum.
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Once the scooters are legal, Milwaukee will work with Bird and other companies to add e-scooters to the city, officials said.
“We are an innovative and entrepreneurial city that is committed to meeting environmental, economic and social needs while enhancing economic growth,” Mayor Tom Barrett said in a statement. “We are committed to working with Bird to develop a program that meets regulatory requirements as well as the needs of people living and working in Milwaukee.”
Bird praised the city in its statement.
“Following a few weeks of productive conversations with city officials, our teams are joining forces so that Bird can be an affordable, and environmentally friendly transportation option for the people of Milwaukee,” said David Estrada, Bird’s head of Public Affairs and Chief Legal Officer.
“We are thankful to have the opportunity to work with Milwaukee city leaders and look forward to bringing Birds back to residents who have already come to enjoy and benefit from this new mode of transportation,” he added.
In the near future, Bird will also provide its “One Bird” and “Red, White and Bird” programs in Milwaukee.
“One Bird” eliminates the $1base fee per ride for anyone currently enrolled in or eligible for a state or federal assistance program — thus “providing a way for everyone to ride Birds in their city,” the website states.
“Red, White and Bird” eliminates the $1 base fee for members of the military and veterans.
The city’s announcement comes on the heels of a heated dispute between the city and Bird.
Deputy City Attorney Adam Stephens declared the electric scooters illegal in a letter to the startup in late June, and on July 6, Milwaukee filed a lawsuit against Bird Rides Inc. and its founder, Travis Vanderzanden.
As both parties seem to have reached an agreement, it’s not clear how the city’s lawsuit against Bird will proceed.
This is a developing story and will be updated.
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