NIMBYs Win; Bird Flies the Coop

By Brent Woodcox

Scooters will soon be a thing of the past in Raleigh.

Citing Raleigh city council’s refusal to adopt reasonable regulations and permitting fees for operating scooter rental services within city limits, Bird and Lime will both flee Raleigh in the coming months. Bird will cease operating by April 30 and Lime will pull out of the city before July 31. The companies also cited the fact that city councilors were unwilling to work with them to come up with a framework to help them operate and even openly accused to city of negotiating in bad faith. Scooter companies did leave open the possibility of a return to Raleigh if conditions were to change. But that seems unlikely unless the NIMBY majority made up of Stef Mendell, David Cox, Kay Crowder, Russ Stephenson and Dickie Thompson are defeated in this October’s city council elections. Those five councilors were the architects of overregulation that lead the companies to throw up their hands and move their business elsewhere. It’s unusual to see businesses so openly call out elected officials but we have an unusually anti-business city council in Raleigh.

Electric scooter companies Bird and Lime are both leaving the city of Raleigh, citing the City Council’s rules and fees.

Bird will stop operations April 30, according to a company statement.

Lime hasn’t set a date, according to Todd O’Boyle, the company’s director of government relations. ...

“Unfortunately, Raleigh city officials refuse to amend their burdensome regulations on e-scooter providers, and it no longer makes sense for us to provide our service under the city’s restrictive leadership,” Bird said in its statement. “Our time in Raleigh must come to a close but we hope to return in the future when city officials are ready to be more amenable to our business and industry as well as the needs of their constituents.”

Both companies did not submit proposals to the city by Tuesday’s deadline, a requirement to continue operating past July 31.

Six companies, including Bird and Lime, expressed interest in the city’s approval process, but none had formally submitted a proposal as of last week, said Michael Moore, the city’s transportation director. ...

The city has not answered the News & Observer’s question about whether other electric scooter companies did apply by the Tuesday deadline.

Bird and Lime both arrived last summer without telling the city. Fans say they are an affordable means of transportation and efficient way of getting cars off the road. Others say they’re a hazard to pedestrians as riders often ride on sidewalks and leave scooters where people walk.

The Raleigh City Council created rules this past fall that regulated where riders could use and park the vehicles. The rules also capped the number of scooters at 500 per company and charged Bird and Lime a $300 per scooter fee. Both Bird and Lime signed the agreement in December, but said the rules were some of the strictest in the country.

“The city has never been operating in good faith, and this proposal does not reflect our desire to have alternative transportation,” O’Boyle said. “The city drew up a procurement process that says go away. And we are leaving.”

Both companies said they saw strong support from the public but were unable to work under the city’s rules.
— Anna Johnson - N&O
Brent Woodcox