City to allow Bird and Spin scooters on its streets

Companies will join Lime in city's pilot program

Bird scooters were first distributed in the Third Ward in June 2018.
Bird scooters were first distributed in the Third Ward in June 2018.

Last updated on August 13th, 2019 at 12:38 pm


The Department of Public Works announced Saturday that it will soon grant approval for two more companies, Bird and Spin, to operate scooters in Milwaukee under the city’s Dockless Scooter Pilot Study.

The pilot applications for Bird and Spin could be approved as soon as Monday, DPW said.

Bird and Spin will join Lime, which has had scooters operating on the streets of Milwaukee since July 23.

On Aug. 2, Mayor Tom Barrett announced that the city had received more than 100 complaints about people misusing the scooters, including riding them on sidewalks. He said the city was suspending plans to expand the scooter pilot program and that the applications by Bird and Spin were on hold indefinitely.

“Since that pause, DPW has been in close communication with operators, all of whom are taking aggressive steps to further promote proper scooter usage,” the Department of Public Works said in a news release Saturday. “These steps include safety events, in-app notifications, ambassadors and patrols, along with partnering with business improvement districts, neighborhood groups, and community organizations. The department has also received a decrease in complaints and witnessed public support for continuing the pilot.”

“We will continue to focus on safety and on addressing the concerns,” Barrett said in the news release. “I am pleased scooter companies are working with their customers to increase awareness and ensure safe riding for everyone on our streets and sidewalks.”

Lime, Bird and Spin will each be allowed to operate a total of 350 scooters.

“Each operator’s allowed fleet plan has been scaled back to ensure the number of scooters in circulation are manageable and being used properly,” commissioner of the Department Public Works Jeff Polenske said. “We will frequently assess the fleet size and determine if adjustments need to be made.”

To date more than 53,000 trips have been made on scooters in Milwaukee, according to the city.

The scooter pilot program is scheduled to run through the end of the year.

Bird first brought its scooters to Milwaukee last year, without any approval of the city. The city sued Bird arguing that the scooters when illegal at the time under state law. Bird argued the scooters were legal under federal law and at first refused to remove them. But after the Common Council approved a scooter pilot program, pending state legislation to legalize the scooters, Bird agreed to remove the scooters. The company and the city settled their lawsuit and the state Legislature passed legislation to allow scooters earlier this year.

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Andrew Weiland
Andrew Weiland is the editor of BizTimes Milwaukee. He joined BizTimes in 2003, serving as managing editor and real estate reporter for 11 years. A University of Wisconsin-Madison graduate, Weiland is a lifelong resident of the state. He lives in Muskego with his wife, Seng, and son, Zachary. He is an avid sports fan and enjoys coaching his son’s youth baseball and basketball teams.