(TNS) — Birmingham, Ala., has asked Bird Rides to immediately remove scooters that were illegally placed on city sidewalks last week.
Since the scooters landed on Aug. 28, the city of Homewood has impounded 38 Bird scooters that were illegally placed on city sidewalks, police Sgt. John Carr said. Bird will be issued a citation for doing business without a city license. Fines and court costs total $371, he said.
He said a Bird representative is set to pick up the scooters on Friday.
In a cease and desist letter, dated Aug. 29, Birmingham City Attorney Nicole King said if the scooters are not removed, they would be impounded for "safekeeping." The company would also face fines, the letter stated.
As of Sept. 6, though, the scooters remain on Birmingham city sidewalks. A Birmingham spokesperson didn't immediately respond to a request for additional comment.
A representative from Bird didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.
Bird Rides Inc. is in violation of city law by operating a business on the public right of way without obtaining permission, in the form of a franchise license, Birmingham's cease and desist letter stated. The company also placed scooters on city sidewalks without permission, which is punishable by a fine of up to $500 and/or 180 days in jail for each violation and for each day that a violation continues.
Bird dockless, electric scooters landed in Birmingham, Homewood and Auburn on Aug. 28. They arrived in Tuscaloosa the week before. The scooters can be located and rented through the Bird app.
"It was a tough decision," Birmingham Chief Operating Officer Kevin Moore said, of city's decision to ask for the scooters to be removed. Moore made the remarks at a Tuesday meeting of the city council's transportation committee.
He said the city was receiving complaints from local business owners where scooters were left.
According to the city of Birmingham's letter, Bird Rides has applied for a business license but hasn't paid for the license. No license has been issued, according to the letter.
"Please be advised that Alabama courts have found that the mere purchase of a business license does not satisfy the requirement for consent of the proper governing authorities to do business in the public ways of a city in the state of Alabama, the letter stated.
Birmingham City Councilor Darrell O'Quinn, who chairs the transportation committee, said the city is in the process of drafting legislation that would regulate scooters and similar small vehicles.
The transportation committee had previously heard presentations from Lime-S and Spin dockless scooters, but none have been approved to operate in Birmingham yet.
Officials with the Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport contacted Bird to remove the scooters from airport property on Aug. 29. The nine scooters were removed later that afternoon.
"Our top priority is to operate a safe and secure airport of our passengers and community," airport spokesperson Toni Herrera-Bast said in an email. "In order for a company or individual to operate at the Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport, they must follow and comply with all city and airport operating requirements."
Bird scooters can be rented through its smartphone app, according to Bird. The app allows users to locate and unlock a scooter. The app also shares safety tips for riders.
A ride costs an initial $1 plus a charge of 15 cents per minute. Bird scooters are calibrated to run at a maximum speed of 15 miles per hour. A charge lasts for about 15 miles.
Each night a Bird contractor, called a charger, picks up the scooters and takes them home to be charged, according to Bird. The scooters are placed back in their "nests," a pre-approved spot, by 7 a.m. the next morning.
According to Bird, the company works to make sure users are riding safely by:
Though it is currently operating illegally in Birmingham, Bird contends that it works closely with the cities where it operates. The company said scooters are located in front of businesses where scooters are wanted.
According to Bird, the company offers to remit $1 per vehicle per day to cities where they operate. The money is intended to be used to build more bike lanes, promote safe riding and maintain shared infrastructure.
©2018 Alabama Media Group, Birmingham Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.