Bird Scooter Removal

Bird scooters wait to be loaded into a truck in Greensboro recently. The Greensboro City Council is putting new limits on scooters and how many will be available.

GREENSBORO

This Bird has flown the coop — at least for now.

Bird Rides is removing hundreds of electric scooters from the streets and sidewalks of Greensboro until the city can revise its ordinances to accommodate them.

City officials late last week asked the company to take the scooters, which they say are often used in violation of city laws. They say riders leave them lying on sidewalks or use them in bike lanes where motorized vehicles are prohibited.

The scooters have become popular in North Carolina cities since the Santa Monica, Calif.-based company introduced them this summer. And from Wilmington to Asheville, cities are struggling with how to handle them. Last week, a judge in Buncombe County ordered Bird to remove the scooters from the streets of Asheville because they don’t comply with city ordinances.

When Bird scooters appeared here in August, they almost immediately generated controversy as riders of all ages zipped along city streets and sidewalks, dodging traffic and pedestrians.

“We had initial discussions, and they agreed to pull them out and then they failed to do so,” Assistant City Attorney Andrea Harrell said. So the city began impounding scooters — 100 on Nov. 2 alone.

Harrell said the city was getting more complaints, which led to concerns among the City Council.

“We just weren’t getting any traction with them on voluntarily leaving, and they were becoming more and more of a hazard,” she said.

Mark Ballard, who works for a downtown law firm, uses the scooters to run daily errands. He said they made the task easier, particularly since he is bothered by an old leg injury.

“The scooter has definitely made my trips quick and painless,” Ballard said. “I’m very disappointed that the scooters are gone.”

For now, at least.

By Wednesday, Bird was aggressively pulling its scooters from streets. “Chargers” — people paid by Bird to pick up scooters and recharge them overnight — were bringing them to a parking lot on Florida Street so they could be loaded into a rental truck.

Spokesman Jake Keys said city officials will likely present an ordinance for the council to consider at its Nov. 20 meeting.

“If everyone would follow the rules ... we would all benefit,” Ballard said.

Contact Richard M. Barron at 336-373-7371 and follow @BarronBizNR on Twitter. Contact Carl Wilson at 336-373-7145 and follow @nr_retail on Twitter.

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