Skip to Content
Streetsblog Los Angeles home
Streetsblog Los Angeles home
Log In
Streetsblog USA

Bird Quietly Ends a Much-Hyped Bike Lane Subsidy

9:56 AM PST on January 11, 2019

Photo: Elvert Barnes/Flickr/CC

The scooter company Bird has quietly abandoned its much-hyped plan to give cities $1 per scooter per day to build bike infrastructure — a huge backtrack by the wealthy firm that once sought to be a partner with cities for safer streets.

Bird corporate did not respond to repeated requests for information. But an official in one city where Bird operates e-scooters tells us the company confirmed it to representatives of that city yesterday. Information about the program, which was launched August in response to some of the safety concerns local officials raised, has been scrubbed from the company's website.

Here is what it looked like before (hat tip to @AsherdeMontreal).

bird-pledge-stroke
false

Bird is valued at $2 billion, but Axios reported last month that scooter companies are running low on cash. Some investors have been scared off by the short self life of the vehicles and VC cash has been drying up — but only to some extent.

Baltimore is one city that has been collecting the fees. Jed Weeks of the local bike advocacy organization Bikemore tells us that the $1-per-scooter-per-day payment has been written into the city's legal agreement with Bird. It has raised about $110,000. The city has not used it to build any additional bike lanes or budgeted it yet, however, Weeks said.

Meanwhile, San Jose officials said they never received any money because the city never created a legal mechanism to collect money from the private company, a city spokesperson told Streetsblog. The money would have helped fund San Jose's bike lane efforts.

Kansas City, like Baltimore, took Bird's offer of $1-per-scooter-per-day and rolled it into its operating agreement. Lime now pays something similar, as well says Eric Bunch of the Bike Walk Kansas City.

Meanwhile, in Raleigh, City Council approved new regulations that will charge Bird a $300 per scooter per year (do the math: That's almost $1-per-scooter-per-day). Raleigh says the fees are necessary to recoup the costs incurred to deploy police officers to bust scooter drivers who ride on the sidewalks. Bird retaliated by imposing a new $2 "transportation fee" on scooter users. The company then asked users to email their representative urging them to "real this unreasonable fee."

Bird's $1-per-scooter-per-day pledge was promoted as a major component of the company's safety commitment and was widely hyped in the media.

In its announcement, Bird CEO Travis VanderZanden called it one aspect of the "Save our Sidewalks" pledge and urged competitors to follow suit. The company was facing heat from the City of Santa Monica over complaints about safety and sidewalk access.

"As an industry of innovators, we need to lead not just on technology, but on social responsibility, he wrote. "We hope that all of you join us in this S.O.S. Pledge to help our cities thrive."

Stay in touch

Sign up for our free newsletter

More from Streetsblog Los Angeles

SGV Connect 121: El Monte and South El Monte, with ActiveSGV and Libros Monte

Podcast features ActiveSGV's David Diaz on various multimodal/complete streets projects - and Pedro Gonzales on Libros Monte and Mt. SAC's El Centro: Latinx Student Program

February 20, 2024

This Week In Livable Streets

CicLAvia, Metro lower 710 Freeway widening plan, C Line construction, Alternative Traffic Enforcement at Transportation Committee, street racing, and more

February 20, 2024

Two Thoughts on Measure HLA and How Hard Some City Leaders Are Fighting Against Safer Streets

Ballooning HLA cost estimates are hard to take seriously - for example, the CAO forecasts that unprotected bike lanes will cost $1.76 million dollars per mile

February 17, 2024
See all posts