Bird, the tech start-up that famously foists its scooters on city streets usually without any permission, is coming to Memphis. But it seems the company did at least talk to folks here first.
An announcement is expected Thursday afternoon about the "future of dockless shared electric vehicles in Memphis."
"The announcement represents proactive planning by Mayor Jim Strickland's administration, the Memphis City Council, the Memphis Area Transit Authority, and the Downtown Memphis Commission," reads a brief announcement from city hall.
When Bird hit the streets of San Francisco earlier this year, they were widely used and widely hated.
The company sprang their operations on Nashville last month. Last week, Nashville officials took their toys — impounded about 411 of the things — and gave the company a cease and desist letter until officials there can figure out how the scooters fit into the city.
Metro has reached agreement w/ Bird for pause in their operations while Metro Council works on best set of regs for dockless vehicles in Nashville. I appreciate this move & look forward to working w/ Bird & all stakeholders to bring these new transportation options to Nashville.
People in Nashville (tourists, mostly, I'm guessing) rode the things in places they definitely should not be riding them, like big, busy streets. Nashville Scene reporter Stephen Elliott collected some them in a series called "Birds in Sticky Situations."
...looks like Bird is going to do just fine in Memphis as long as it inspires as much as fun in others as it has in council chairman Berlin Boyd and council member Kemp Conrad.
Here's the official statement from city officials:
Bird, the leader in last-mile electric mobility, announced today that it will launch shared electric scooters in Memphis on Friday, June 15. Birds will be available around Downtown, Midtown, Uptown, South City, and Cooper Young, and as ridership grows the company will scale its fleet to serve all of the residents and communities of Memphis.
Bird officially announced its launch in cooperation with the City of Memphis at a press conference today in Court Square Park with Councilman Kemp Conrad and Chief Operating Officer Doug McGowen. The company will celebrate its arrival with a free helmet giveaway event on Friday, June 15 at 3:30 p.m. in Court Square Park.
“Memphis is an innovative city that recognizes the importance of an equitable, affordable, and reliable transit system. That’s why we are excited to bring our environmentally friendly transportation solution to the people of Memphis,” said Travis VanderZanden, founder and CEO of Bird. “We applaud the city’s leadership for its forward-looking efforts to introduce ways for people to get around their city that don’t lead to more traffic and carbon emissions.”
Bird’s launch in Memphis is the result of broad cooperation among city officials, including Mayor Jim Strickland, the Memphis City Council, the Memphis Area Transit Authority, and the Downtown Memphis Commission. Bird will provide its services under a temporary operating agreement modeled after a shared mobility ordinance, that Councilman Conrad and Mayor Strickland will introduce next week to the Council.
“As Bird launches this week, Memphis demonstrates its leadership in deploying innovative, new shared mobility solutions that will be an important part of the future of our transportation system,” said Councilman Conrad. “We are proud to bring this alternative mode of transportation to Memphis that doesn’t involve cars, lessens traffic, is better for the environment, and puts less wear and tear on Memphis streets.”
In Memphis, as in all markets where it operates, Bird will abide by its industry-leading Save Our Sidewalks Pledge in which Bird commits to: collecting all of its vehicles each night for charging and necessary maintenance; practicing responsible growth by only adding more vehicles when each Bird averages three or more rides per day; and remitting $1 per vehicle per day to the city to build more bike lanes, promote safe riding, and maintain shared infrastructure.
“Memphis is glad to introduce another shared mobility option. Working together with both public and private stakeholders we can offer Memphis residents additional transportation solutions that are accessible and affordable for all,” said McGowen, Memphis’ COO.
Safety is a top priority for Bird, which is why the company also provides helmets to all riders who request one within the app. To date, Bird has distributed more than 30,000 helmets.
Riders in Memphis interested in finding a Bird near them can download and sign up at www.birdapp.com.
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