The city of Ann Arbor has impounded almost two dozen Bird scooters for violating a city ordinances.
City Communications Director Lisa Wondrash said the scooters were improperly parked on sidewalks, streets or bike lanes, adding that the scooters also violate an ordinance mandating motorized vehicles not impede the public right-of-way.
“The company has been notified that their equipment has been collected by the city and is being securely stored at our Public Works Facility,” Wondrash wrote in an email to MLive. “The city welcomes alternative modes of transportation for residents and visitors, and city staff are actively working with Bird on a licensing agreement.”
In an interview with the Detroit Free Press, Wondrash said finding appropriate places to park the scooters was “a question for Bird Scooter to answer.” The University of Michigan’s Division of Public Safety and Security, however, advised users of the scooters park them at bike racks or in moped parking areas.
“When you are finished riding the scooter, it’s important to keep it from interfering with the public right of way. Do not leave the scooters parked on the roads, sidewalks, bike paths, driveways, access ramps, stairways, landscaped areas or near fire hydrants,” DPSS announced in an online statement. “Scooters must be parked in bike racks or moped parking areas. Please walk the scooter to the bike rack if you must traverse a sidewalk.”
Dozens of the scooters were dropped in Ann Arbor two weeks ago without prior notice to the city, requiring city officials to deal with the unexpected problems caused by their presence. The city has since issued a statement saying the use of the scooters could merit a ticket and has now begun removing the scooters from public areas. According to a map in the Bird mobile app, the number of active scooters in the area has been reduced to roughly 50.
The Ann Arbor Transportation Commission met Sept. 12 to discuss the Birds and the problems posed by their sudden presence. The commissioners resolved to create a charter for a task force or advisory committee to aid the city in dealing with the scooters and voiced support for regulating the scooters in a similar manner to electric skateboards, which can now be used in city streets.
LSA junior Seth Allen, a frequent Bird user, has noticed there are fewer scooters in the city and on campus since the crackdown. He expressed his hope that the Birds stay in the city in the future.
“I think that they’re a great way to get somewhere in a hurry, especially if it’s an awkward distance where you don’t necessarily want to bike there but you don’t want to walk there either,” Allen said. “It’s very convenient.”
Allen plans to continue using the Birds regularly if they stay in Ann Arbor and is in the process of becoming a charger for the scooters.
Though Bird’s relationship with the city has been rocky since their deployment, it appears likely that they will continue to be allowed — albeit regulated — in the future. Wondrash has stated the city is currently working on a licensing agreement with the company that would include stipulations allowing the scooters to be parked in sidewalk extensions out of pedestrian traffic.