Scooter rental service Bird has changed its mind about maintaining operations in Indianapolis while it waits for city officials to come up with regulations.
Bird began removing scooters from the city Wednesday and expressed hope that it could return to business as soon as next week. City-County Council members are expected to vote on an ordinance regulating scooter-rental services on Monday.
Scooter usage became a hot-button topic last month when two California-based rent-by-the-minute dockless scooter services dropped off hundreds of the rechargable vehicles near sidewalks, along the Cultural Trail downtown and in other areas.
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 scooter sharing. It sent a similar request to Lime on July 2, asking it to cease operations until July 16.
Lime halted operations July 5, citing the city's request, but Bird told IBJ on July 6 that it wanted to avoid interruption in its service while regulations were being decided.
Bird officials apparently changed their minds this week.
"We are glad to be working with Indianapolis to build a framework that permits affordable transportation options that help the city reach its goals of getting cars off the road and reducing emissions,” a Bird spokesman said Thursday an email to IBJ. “While this work is under way, we have agreed to remove our scooters from the streets of Indianapolis and started removing vehicles on Wednesday, 7/11. We hope the ordinance and its resulting permit process is completed as soon as possible so we can get back to helping people easily get around Indianapolis.”
The company declined to answer questions about the decision.
Lime Director of Strategic Development Maggie Gendron told IBJ that her company halted operations because she hoped the city would look favorably on the company’s decision to comply with the city’s request.
Some City-County Council officials had expressed displeasure with the scooter companies when they initially declined to honor the city’s request.