A controversial electric scooter startup has taken initial steps toward operating legally in the city, but will have to go through City Council before it can drop more of its vehicles on Richmond’s sidewalks.
Bird Rides Inc., a California-based company that last week brought a fleet of its on-demand, dockless scooters into Richmond unannounced only to have them seized by the city, met on Tuesday with officials from Mayor Levar Stoney’s office.
The two sides discussed the city rules and regulations that Bird violated during its overnight blitz last week, when it unleashed dozens of scooters.
City spokesman Tom Byrnes said the city told Bird on Tuesday that “City Council action and an ordinance will be required, along with the establishment of an appropriate permitting, legal and administrative review process, before any dockless scooter initiative can be considered.”
Bird could not be reached for comment by press time.
Byrnes added that the city won’t permit the operation of electric scooters by Bird or its competitors in the interim. The city has continued collecting the scooters since Thursday’s surprise launch, though a few stray Birds remain. As of press time, Bird’s app showed six available scooters scattered around the city.
The city said it considers placement or parking of any vehicles on the sidewalk to be in violation of City Code and that going forward, the city will utilize its towing contractor, Seibert’s Towing, to remove scooters illegally parked in the right-of-way.
“City officials will nevertheless work with Bird, Lime and any other motorized scooter company with an expressed interest in Richmond,” Byrnes said in an email.
Lime is a Bird competitor that also has shown interest in the Richmond market.
Councilwoman Kim Gray said on Tuesday that she’s been in contact with Bird and that she’s willing to sit down and work on an ordinance with the startup.
“(I) just don’t want the sidewalk to be littered and have tripping hazards, but I think there’s a healthy balance,” Gray said.
She added that she’s planning to look into what other localities have done to regulate the dockless scooters.
There are currently no scooter-related ordinances on the agendas for City Council’s next meetings on Sept. 10 and 24.