Scooter rental service Bird says it has no intention of shutting down operations in Indianapolis while its waits for city officials to iron out regulations—unlike its competitor Lime, which quit operating locally last week, at least temporarily.
Scooter usage became a hot-button topic last month when the two California-based rent-by-the-minute dockless scooter services dropped off dozens of the battery-powered vehicles near sidewalks, along the Cultural Trail downtown and in other areas. City officials are debating how to regulate the services, which have quickly caught on with local residents and visitors.
“Bird is operating lawfully with the required business permit in the city of Indianapolis, and the people of Indianapolis have enthusiastically embraced shared electric scooters,” Bird said Friday afternoon in an email to IBJ. “We're working cooperatively with city officials on a draft ordinance that will require operators to have a new form of permit once the ordinance is passed. We hope that city officials will be able to create a smooth transition to the new permit process so that service to Hoosiers is not interrupted.”
Santa Monica-based Bird arrived in Indianapolis on June 15 when it deployed dozens of electric scooters downtown, in Irvington and along Massachusetts Avenue. Eight days later, San Mateo-based Lime (formerly LimeBike) began offering its scooters in Indianapolis.
Users activate and rent the scooters through a mobile phone application. Rates are $1 per ride plus 15 cents per minute.
On June 19, the city’s Department of Business and Neighborhood Services, formerly code enforcement, asked Bird to halt its service for 30 days while the city worked out a regulatory scheme for dockless bike and scooter sharing. It sent a similar request to Lime on July 2, asking it to cease operations until July 16, when the City-County Council is scheduled to vote on a scooter-regulation ordinance.
Lime halted operations July 5, citing the city's request, which it referred to as a "cease-and-desist order." The city, however, told IBJ on Monday that all it sent to Lime was a written request.
In an emailed statement to IBJ, Lime Director of Strategic Development Maggie Gendron said she hoped the city would look favorably on the company’s decision to comply with the request.
“One provision in particular, if the ordinance is adopted on July 16, allows the Department of Business and Neighborhood Services to consider past compliance with city/county ordinances as a factor in the decision to grant a license,” she wrote. “As Lime chooses to work with the city, we trust the city will in fact hold all scooter companies operating in Indianapolis accountable to the same standards.”
Gendron said Lime will “continue to work collaboratively with the city towards crafting a common-sense regulatory solution that prioritizes rider safety and accessibility, while maintaining our scooters as an affordable transportation option for Indianapolis residents.”
“We look forward to returning to the streets once circumstances change in regards to the city permitting process, or in the event a competitor continues to operate without enforcement action.”