Senate passes bill to bring back Bird scooters, which allows for ‘100% decision making on the local level’

James Williams

James Williams

MILWAUKEE -- A flock of birds could soon be on their way back to Milwaukee. Officials with the Bird scooter company said in August 2018 in a joint press release with City of Milwaukee leaders the scooters were being “voluntarily removed” from Milwaukee streets until the state removed restrictions on them. Bird officials vowed to work with the city to get them back on the streets legally.

The Wisconsin Senate unanimously passed a bill that would make electric scooters legal to ride on public streets, but state lawmakers opted to let local governments set the rules.

When it comes to sharing the road, James Williams said he's happy to yield. Williams, from Milwaukee, said he recently traveled to Texas, where electric scooters are legal. He said he was in favor of Wisconsin getting back on board.

"They were everywhere," said Williams. "It seemed like it was a really easy way for people to get around."

Electric scooters

Senator Dale Kooyenga

Senator Dale Kooyenga

Electric scooters made a brief appearance in Milwaukee in 2018. The city ordered their removal because they violated state statute.

Senator Dale Kooyenga, R-Brookfield, co-authored the bill to make electric scooters street legal. It passed the Senate, and Kooyenga said he expected it to soon pass in the Assembly. Once signed into law, local governments would call all the shots, including whether riders would be able to take them on the road, sidewalk, or anywhere within city limits.

"I think there is a lot of momentum there," said Kooyenga. "100% decision making on the local level. If they want to ban them, that's their business. If they want to promote them, that's their business. That's up to the community for what they want to do."

Kooyenga said some city leaders were already talking with scooter company leaders and writing contracts so once the bill was signed, the scooters could hit the street immediately.

Williams said he was looking forward to it.

"Oh, yeah. Technology is wonderful," said Williams.

As of Monday, June 17, the Assembly had not scheduled a date to vote on the bill. Kooyenga said he hoped it would be approved by Summerfest -- June 26-July 7.

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