City leaders seek green light from courts to get Bird scooters off Milwaukee streets

MILWAUKEE -- Ever since Bird scooters landed in Milwaukee in June, there's been debate over whether the "flock" can stay put. While the controversial scooters have proven popular, they aren't necessarily legal to ride. Now, the city is considering the consequences.

"Common Council has no authority to legalize the operation of Bird scooters on the streets of Milwaukee," said Milwaukee Alderman Bob Bauman.

In Wisconsin, the rules of the road are governed by state law. Since the scooters are considered "motor vehicles," they must be registered or fall under an exemption -- like Segways.

"Bird motor scooters is not one of those exceptions," said Adam Stephens, deputy city attorney.

In a statement from Bird, the company claims: "Motorized scooters, like Birds are neither defined nor prohibited by Wisconsin or Milwaukee law."

The Milwaukee Common Council's Public Works Committee, on Wednesday, July 18, disagreed.

Bob Bauman

"They are literally giving the citizens of the City of Milwaukee the middle finger," said Bauman.

Stephens said he's already received complaints from pedestrians -- including from Megan Cochran, who's close to seven months pregnant and claims she was clipped by a Bird scooter on Milwaukee's east side.

Megan Cochran

"When you see someone moving, you can only move so fast... and he clipped me. He hit my left side and I stumbled off the sidewalk," said Cochran.

Still, many Bird users say they don't see a problem with the new mode of transportation.

"It's pretty cool. You just download the app. You just scan it, take it and ride it," said Eric Mitchell.

The city is now seeking the green light from the courts to get the scooters off the streets.

The city is looking to collect $200 from the company every time someone rides one of its scooters. Bird has reported almost 7,000 rides in Milwaukee so far.