Port Angeles, Sequim approve temporary e-scooters contracts

City leaders in Sequim and Port Angeles both approved pay-as-you-go electric scooters. However, when those services start depends on Bird Rides, Inc. hiring personnel to run the fleet.

Port Angeles city council unanimously agreed to allow the e-scooters in the city on July 19, following Sequim city council’s 5-2 vote on July 11.

Both cities agreed to temporary operating agreements to allow the company to bring scooters in the cities through Sept. 30, 2023, renewed or extended by the councils.

“The limited time period specified in the agreement allows [the city of Port Angeles] and its and its visitors and visitors to evaluate the benefits and possible disadvantages of the e-scooter share program,” said Jessica Straits, Port Angeles’ communications and records management coordinator.

No start date was provided for either city from Bird representatives, nor did they answer if company representatives are in talks with other regional cities.

A Bird spokesperson said via email that the company is in process of sourcing Fleet Managers for the cities.

According to its website, the Fleet Manager program works with an individual or business to manage e-scooters fleets, and requires a warehouse, a large vehicle and experience running a small business. Find more information at bird.co/us-fm.

Both cities’ staffers indicated the temporary agreement depends on Bird opting to come into the region.

“They’re still analyzing this market,” Sequim city manager Matt Huish said on July 11.

“Even if we’re moving forward, they may choose not to move forward with this market.”

City managers are authorized to sign the temporary operating agreements dependent on Bird Rides setting up their scooters. To use a scooter, riders must use a mobile app to pay and ride across its specified city.

Neither city would pay anything for the scooters and Huish said it’d take four-six weeks to prepare the equipment locally.

In July, The Columbian Reported Bird pulled out of an agreement with the City of Battle Ground weeks after its city leaders agreed to allow the e-scooters in the city.

Bird Rides representatives told city officials the company was scaling back investments.

In June, Bird Rides laid off nearly one-fourth of its workforce and received a warning from the New York Stock Exchange when its (Bird Global) stock went below $1 for 30 consecutive days, the newspaper reported.

Multiple cities across the country have taken different stances on e-scooters with some embracing them to counter carbon emissions, banning contracted companies but not privately owned scooters, or banning them for public safety reasons such as vandalism.

Deputy mayor Brandon Janisse and councilor Kathy Downer voted against Sequim bringing them into the city, with Downer saying at different meetings she was concerned about people tripping over scooters left in a sidewalk.

At the July 11 meeting, Mike Butler, a Bird Rides representative, told Sequim Mayor Tom Ferrell the company hasn’t pulled out of any cities it partnered with after 12 months.

Bird spokesperson said via email that the scooters offer a beginner mode for gentler acceleration; a Community Pricing Program with a discount for low-income, nonprofits, veterans and certain other community members with proof of eligibility; free rides for healthcare workers and emergency personnel with two, free 30 minute rides per day, and a Community Mode for Bird account users to report issues, such as poorly parked or damaged scooters.

In Sequim, the scooters must follow laws similarly to other motorized vehicles, police report.

Riders can go on city streets with speed limits under 25 miles per hour and on sidewalks so long as they yield to pedestrians and not leave scooters to impede pedestrians, according to Sequim deputy police chief Mike Hill.

For more information about Bird Rides, visit bird.co.