A Word on Bird Scooters


You may have seen today’s NOW story on the potential of Bird Scooters coming to South Milwaukee.

Check it out here. From it …

“We want to be at the front end of multimodal transportation,” Mayor Erik Brooks said. “I don’t mind being first or among the first to do this.”

The Bird scooters were recently dropped off in various locations around Milwaukee and received mixed reactions with some residents flocking to them and others opposed.

The bigger issue: The scooters are illegal to use in Wisconsin.

Bird agreed to remove the scooters from Milwaukee in early August following weeks of discussions by city officials as well as some residents showing support for the new mode of transportation. However, they could be back if laws in Wisconsin are changed.

When asked if the issues happening in Milwaukee hatched the plan in South Milwaukee, Brooks said he and city officials were following the issue closely and it did lead to the idea to look into bringing them, and electric scooters in general, to the city.

Brooks said city officials have been talking with representatives from Bird to work on a possible managed rollout of the scooters. “It has to be a managed rollout,” Brooks said. “They can’t just be dumping scooters in South Milwaukee like they did in Milwaukee.”

However, that rollout might have to wait a while; the city will likely hold off until action is taken at the state level to legalize them.

I want to stress that last point. We discussed this at Tuesday’s common council meeting, and that is where we left the issue — needing more clarity from the state before we look deeper at the potential of bringing these to South Milwaukee. We would also need to repeal a local ordinance that disallows motorized scooters.

I don’t mind being an early adopter, once the state provides its guidance and likely after Milwaukee decides on its potential rollout. But this has to be done the right way, as a partnership with Bird to ensure the proper written agreements, rules, regulations and expectations are in place before the first scooter hits the streets.  The South Milwaukee Common Council was clear with that feedback this week, and I agree.

So, we wait, and continue to do our homework.

I also plan to use this time to discuss the issue with leaders of surrounding cities and Milwaukee County to gauge their interest. I’d be hesitant to put South Milwaukee on an “island” in allowing Bird Scooters; they will likely get more use if riders could connect across communities, including Milwaukee … not have to stop riding at city lines.

As we dive into these and other details — from law enforcement to parking to liability issues — this much is becoming increasingly clear: These types of rideshare alternatives are the future, and the future is now. The question is, will we be prepared to innovate?

I want South Milwaukee to be ready to roll when the time is right.

1 Comment

Filed under South Milwaukee

One response to “A Word on Bird Scooters

  1. SM Guy

    I’m almost completely behind you on this, but you missed the #1 key point in what needs to be worked out first. Yes, there are the rule, regulations, etc., but what we really need to know are the licensing, fees, and taxes. We have ANOTHER big tax increase request coming from the city along with all the additional tax increases (I mean fees) on the water bill, so it will be really great to see how much of these we will no longer need with Bird (and or others) start kicking in. What will the expected revenue be?

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