Spin scooters arrive in Milwaukee, Bird to relaunch on Wednesday

They join Lime scooters on city streets

Spin scooters parked on a Milwaukee street corner on Tuesday.
Spin scooters parked on a Milwaukee street corner on Tuesday.

Last updated on August 15th, 2019 at 12:28 pm

After initially being the first scooter company to launch in Milwaukee last year, Bird Rides Inc. will now be the third company to deploy under the city’s dockless scooter pilot program.

Spin, which is owned by Ford, launched in Milwaukee on Tuesday with 240 of its max scooters and plans to scale-up its fleet to 350 by the end of next week, a spokesperson said, noting the company would be the only operator to limit hours of operation. Spin scooters will not operate between 10 p.m. and 4 a.m.

“This will help us manage unsafe riding behaviors which usually occur at night and allow us to ensure out scooters are serviced,” the Spin spokesperson said.

The company will also have five employees and three contractors working in the city to start.

Milwaukee’s pilot program launched last month with Lime scooters, but Mayor Tom Barrett halted any expansion of the program in early August citing safety concerns.

On Saturday, the city’s Department of Public Works announced it would allow scooter operators Bird and Spin to join the city’s pilot program.

“We have long looked forward to partnering with Milwaukee to help bring transportation alternatives to residents. Communities throughout the city can benefit from having an affordable and environmentally friendly option for getting around without having to get in the car — and we’re thrilled that Bird can now be one of those options,” said Paul Steely White, director of safety policy at Bird.

The city scaled back the fleet size for each operator to 350 scooters. Lime had been operating a fleet of 500 in the city. Jeff Polenske, commissioner of DPW, said the city reduced the fleet to keep the number of scooters manageable and make sure they are being used properly. He added the city would regularly evaluate the need for changes in fleet size.

In a release, Bird noted users would need to go through a safety tutorial before taking their first ride and the company plans to work with organizations in Milwaukee on its Safe Streets tour later this year.

Bird’s arrival in Milwaukee in June 2018 kicked off weeks of controversy over the legality of scooters on city streets. It eventually led to a lawsuit and the scooters were removed from city streets while state lawmakers worked on legislation to allow cities to create pilot programs.

The company spent $45,000 and 142 hours lobbying lawmakers for the legislation, according to state records. Neutron Holdings, the company behind Lime scooters, spent $31,121 and 180 hours lobbying on the bill.

Get our email updates

Arthur Thomas
Arthur covers manufacturing for BizTimes. He previously was managing editor at The Waukesha Freeman. He is a graduate of Carroll University and did graduate coursework at Marquette. A native of southeastern Wisconsin, he is also a nationally certified gymnastics judge and enjoys golf on the weekends.