City of Milwaukee announces it will cooperate with Bird

City still suing company, scooters to be removed from streets voluntarily

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The City of Milwaukee and Bird Rides Inc. today announced they will work together to roll out a framework guiding electric scootershare programs in the city.

Bird scooters were distributed in the Third Ward today.

Meanwhile, the city’s lawsuit against Bird is proceeding in federal court. Late last week, Bird filed a brief in opposition to the city’s motion for a temporary injunction of the scooters, and made its argument that the scooters are legal under federal law. The city has argued the scooters are illegal under state law, and it needs guidance from the state Legislature to allow them. A pre-trial conference has been set for Aug. 14.

In a joint press release today, the company and the city said they both want to foster “a community that embraces innovation and includes more transportation options.”

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And the City of Milwaukee again emphasized that it must receive guidance from the Wisconsin Legislature or Gov. Scott Walker to move forward with the program—and the use of the scooters on city streets.

Bird said it plans to voluntarily remove its scooters from Milwaukee, and has agreed to offer “extensive rider education to the people of Milwaukee” if it returns.

“We are an innovative and entrepreneurial city that is committed to meeting environmental, economic and social needs while enhancing economic growth,” said Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett in a statement. “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.”

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“Following a few weeks of productive conversations with city officials, our teams are joining forces so that Bird can be an affordable, and environmentally friendly transportation option for the people of Milwaukee,” said David Estrada, head of public affairs and chief legal officer at Bird. “We are thankful to have the opportunity to work with Milwaukee city leaders and look forward to bringing Birds back to residents who have already come to enjoy and benefit from this new mode of transportation.”

The company plans to implement its One Bird program for underserved communities and its Red, White and Bird program for U.S. military and veterans in Milwaukee “in the near future.”

The plans follow a softening of Milwaukee’s stance last week on the scooters, when the Common Council avoided an outright ban of the scooters and authorized a pilot study of their use here, while also giving the go-ahead for the city to impound them.

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Bird distributed about 100 of its scooters in and around downtown Milwaukee on June 27. Users can rent them via a mobile app and leave them at the curb when they’re finished.

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