Jul 04, 2020

City of Fresno shoots down Bird — with cease-and-desist order

You’re probably seeing fewer Bird scooters around, since the city of Fresno issued a notice ordering the company to remove the scooters from city streets.

According to a news release from the city, Bird Ride Inc., owner of the Bird electric scooters, had failed to obtain adequate business licenses or official permission to operate in Fresno. So the city slapped the company with a cease-and-desist letter on Aug. 29, the news release stated.

The city gave until Sept. 9 for the scooters to be off streets.

“We appreciate Bird’s eagerness to establish themselves here before their competitors do,” Fresno Mayor Lee Brand said in the news release. “But it’s not fair to the thousands of businesses in Fresno who play by the rules, received the proper permits and licenses and are operating legally.”

It isn’t the end of the road for the Bird company in Fresno, however. The city says it is willing to work on an agreement with the company to allow them to legitimately operate in town.

“We want to be business friendly — but friendliness goes both ways,” Brand said. “We will continue to embrace different forms of transportation, but not at the expense of safety or public process.”

A city spokesperson said the city has received numerous complaints about people operating the scooters without a helmet or riding on sidewalks, which violates city codes.

Bird Ride Inc. has been accused of similar business practices in other cities such as San Diego, Boston, Nashville and Kansas City, according to the release. Many of these cities have also issued cease-and-desist letters, and, in some cases, banned the scooters entirely.

The Bird company has rescheduled a meeting with city officials to discuss licensing and operation, which was originally scheduled for this week, according to City of Fresno spokesman MarkStandriff.

Standriff said the Bird company demonstrated it had taken “the cease-and-desist letter seriously” by removing its scooters from Fresno streets.

The scooters have become highly visible on the Fresno State campus, with students riding them through walkways and leaving them outside classrooms and campus buildings. The university previously said the scooters were allowed on campus roadways.

On Sept. 7, the university issued a statement on behalf of Executive Director of Governmental Relations Lawrence Salinas, stating, “We respect the City of Fresno’s position and want to ensure that all applicable operating permits are in place and will await further guidance.”

Associated Students, Inc., was also reportedly planning to create a partnership with the Bird company, according to a report from its Sept. 5 meeting.

A Bird spokeswoman told The Collegian that the company removed their scooters voluntarily and that they are having “productive conversations” with city leaders.

Collegian reporter Dan Waterhouse contributed to this report.

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