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Friday, July 20, 2018

Rideshare Scooters Left St. Louis Before We Even Got a Chance to Hate Them

Posted By on Fri, Jul 20, 2018 at 3:03 PM

click to enlarge Alas, poor Bird Scooters, we hardly knew thee. - VIA FLICKR/PHILLIP PESSAR
The large cache of electric scooters that were unceremoniously dumped onto the streets of downtown St. Louis on Thursday have left as quickly as they came.

Bird Rides Inc., which is responsible for the powered rideshare vehicles, has agreed to pull the scooters off city streets after St. Louis officials said they were operating without a permit, the Post-Dispatch reports.

The company's electric scooters are the latest entry in the world of ridesharing, joining LimeBike and Ofo in dumping shit with wheels all over the St. Louis area, and in this case employing an attitude of "I dunno, you figure it out" when it comes to logistics.

They are also wildly controversial in the cities where they've been rolled out to date. Milwaukee's Board of Aldermen, for example, recently voted to remove theirs from the streets, citing the "chaos" they've created in regard to public safety. This came after the city sued Bird Rides Inc. for disregarding a cease and desist order. City leaders cited a complaint from a pregnant woman who was struck by a rider as one example of the problems they've caused there.

In San Francisco, local media has taken to referring to the scooters with words like "scourge" and "invasion," suggesting of the tech companies responsible for them, "Maybe it’s time to disrupt the disrupters."

In Oakland, city council members have proposed new rules and regulations for the scooters, which they have to pull out of Lake Merritt multiple times a week. "We definitely need them not to be in the lake," Councilmember Rebecca Kaplan tells NBC matter-of-factly.

It is a shame that St. Louis was not given the opportunity to hate on these things with the same fervor as these other cities, as St. Louis is prodigiously talented at hating on things. We probably would have had ourselves a great time drinking beers and watching city workers holler and curse as they attempted to drag scores of the easier-to-throw-than-a-LimeBike vehicles out of the Mississippi.

But according to city officials, Bird didn't bother even telling anyone that they'd be dumping their trash onto our streets. “A phone call would’ve gone a long way,” St. Louis City Traffic Commissioner Deanna Venker tells Fox 2. “We have reached out to Bird to step back a little here. Let’s get on the same page and get a permit filled out and make sure all those requirements are met.”

Koran Addo, a spokesman for Mayor Lyda Krewson, tells the Post-Dispatch that the city's existing rules regarding bikeshare services were recently updated to include scooters, but that policy won't be voted on until next week.

“We are in favor of these dockless programs," Addo tells the daily, "but this company did not go about it in the right way.”

But fret not: Bird seems to be optimistic that St. Louis citizens will get the opportunity to start hating on their product sooner rather than later — as early, perhaps, as next week.

"In partnership with the City of St. Louis, we have agreed to remove all Birds from the city until scooters are added to the city’s dockless vehicle program next week," the company says in a statement. "We are in close communication with local officials and are working together on our permit application, and we look forward to relaunching in St. Louis next week."

Assuming their optimism is warranted, you know where to find us when that happens: down by the river, Busch in hand, waiting for the inevitable. Let's get to hating.

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