Bird ‘voluntarily removes’ scooters in Milwaukee until state removes restrictions

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MILWAUKEE — Officials with the Bird scooter company said Monday, Aug. 6 in a joint press release with City of Milwaukee leaders the scooters are being “voluntarily removed” from Milwaukee streets until the state removes restrictions on them. Bird officials said they’ll work with the city to get them back on the streets legally.

In the release, the company said “Bird and the city expressed their shared goals of creating a community that embraces innovation and includes more transportation options.”

“Everyone I’ve talked to, family, even other students at Marquette, they love ’em. It’s a great way to get through campus,” said Jake Brozynski.

They said as soon as the Wisconsin Legislature or governor removes state restrictions on the scooters, the company and city leaders “will work to add” the scooters to the city’s transportation mix.

Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett said in the release “we are committed to working with Bird to develop a program that meets regulatory requirements as well as the needs of people living and working in Milwaukee.”

The company said if and when Bird scooters are allowed to operate legally in Milwaukee “Bird has committed to supporting the Milwaukee Police Department by providing extensive rider education to the people of Milwaukee, and holding regular safety events in the city.”

The Milwaukee Common Council on July 31 passed an ordinance making Bird scooters illegal in Milwaukee. The ordinance acknowledges that motorized scooters are illegal under state statute — and that the city will not override or ignore the law, but the language does leave room for the scooters to operate legally — if the law changes. Common Council members voted 12-2 to declare the Birds illegal — and give the Department of Public Works the green light to begin removing them. State law classifies the electric scooters, which riders can rent for cheap, as vehicles. All vehicles must be registered in Wisconsin. In a statement, Bird argued federal law says the opposite — stand-up scooters are “not motor vehicles.”

“They are voluntarily taking scooters off the street for now, until there’s clarification or until the governor and the state legislature changes the state law,” said Mayor Barrett.

Common Council members also unanimously approved a resolution that calls on leaders in Madison to amend the state law. The legislature won’t be back in session until January.

“I love the buses. I love the Bublr (Bikes). I love the cars. I love having the freeway access. I love having the streetcar and I think having the scooters is an exciting opportunity as well,” said Mayor Barrett.

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