Bird Scooters Arrive Without Any Notice to City Officials

BirdAn image from the Bird app.

A new transportation option arrived in the city on Friday: electric, dockless Bird scooters.

Bird scooters are designed to be used for short trips to cut down on driving, according to a spokesperson. Fifteen is the magic number for the scooters: Trips cost 15 cents per minute (on top of a $1 base fee), the scooters go up to 15 miles per hour, and a charge lasts about 15 minutes.

“We are excited to bring our affordable transportation option to the people and local communities. Birds are perfect for those “last mile” trips that are too long to walk, but too short to drive,” the company said in a statement.

Riders are asked to leave the scooters near bike racks when they’re finished with them, and overnight they’re moved to “nests” on private property, according to the statement. Users can find the scooters through the Bird app.

Bird did not communicate with city officials before setting up shop here last week, according to Jaclyn Rossetti, a spokesperson for the city.

“The City is committed to mobility strategies that reduce dependence on the private automobile, and we believe that electric scooter companies can be a part of the solution if the providers work with us, share data, and ensure compliance with safety and accessibility laws,” she told Scout in an email. “We will be reaching out to Bird to start that conversation immediately. The City had no knowledge of Bird’s launch last week, and there is no contract, license, or agreement in place to allow them to operate in Somerville at this time.”

Bird operates in several other cities throughout the country, including Atlanta, Denver, and Los Angeles, and started serving Cambridge on the same day as Somerville. The scooter company ran into trouble in San Francisco earlier this year when the city sent a cease and desist letter and a city attorney called Bird “a public nuisance” and “unlawful,” according to Bloomberg.

Bird has taken a “Save Our Sidewalks Pledge,” offering to share $1 per vehicle each day with city governments to support infrastructure and bike lanes, among other pledges.

Bird did not respond to Scout’s request for further comment.