Lovers of Bird scooters got a Valentine’s Day gift in the form of an agreement between Bird Rides, Inc. and the City of Santa Monica. Henceforth the renegade motorized scooter company will be able to operate legally in the beach city.
Prosecutors had filed a criminal complaint against Bird late last year, charging the fledgling company with multiple counts of “violating local law by operating a commercial scooter rental business on the public right of way without a proper City business license and failing to comply with City administrative citations.”
In the agreement announced by the City February 14, Bird and founder Travis VanderZanden agreed to plead “No Contest” in violating City law and to pay $300,000 in fines and restitution. The company also agreed to secure proper City business licenses, to comply with local business licensing regulations and to run a weeklong public safety education campaign on the Big Blue Bus.
While the legal tussle ensued, growing numbers of Santa Monicans took enthusiastically to the App-enabled, electric scooters that had first appeared, seemingly magically, on downtown streets in September 2017. Others found them a public nuisance and a danger. Users, including minors, were riding them at speeds of up to 15 miles per hour on sidewalks and roads, invariably without safety helmets. They often parked them in the paths of bikes, businesses, garages or even access routes for the disabled.
But what became immediately evident to users and to transportation experts was that Birds offered a simple solution to a thorny problem in the Southland as it tries to lure people out of their cars and onto mass transit: how to get people from home or work to bus or train, or the First Mile Last Mile.
For its part, Bird spokesman Marcus Reese issued this response: “We are pleased that Bird and the City of Santa Monica were able to work out our differences regarding licensure… Bird now starts fresh with the city, and we look forward to continuing to provide a safe, environmentally friendly transportation solution to the people of Santa Monica.”
While the City chirruped that the company will pay “significant penalties” of $300,000, the fee is a drop in the bucket for Bird, which just one day before crowed, in a separate press release, that it had raised $15 million in venture capital funding.
They will use this “to drive the continued expansion of Bird’s fleet of environmentally friendly, shared electric scooters.”
In a release sent out February 13, they said that since launching in September 2017 in Santa Monica, riders have logged more than 250,000 Bird rides, and that the company plans rapid expansion into “new markets across the United States. ”
Expect Birds to land in your city soon.