Rental scooters suddenly arrive on Twin Cities streets, surprising officials

City officials have been scrambling to react to Bird's abrupt arrival.
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The sudden arrival of rental scooters on Twin Cities streets on Tuesday caught many by surprise – including city officials.

Bird, a dockless scooter ride-sharing company, announced Tuesday morning that its electric scooters were in place in Minneapolis and St. Paul, and available for rent to subscribers.

Since the scooters are dockless, users can rent one, take it a few blocks, and then leave it at their destination.

The only problem? Nobody seems to have told those in charge at city hall.

It turns out, the company doesn't appear to have secured the necessary legal permits to operate in the cities.

This in turn prompted the St. Paul Public Works Department to order Bird to remove its 100 scooters from St. Paul streets, with WCCO reporting it is violating an ordinance that requires a permit for any use of public space or right of way.

Bird however told the TV station it had reached out to the city before the launch.

Meanwhile in Minneapolis, the scooters arrived on the same day the city council was discussing an ordinance that would regulate motorized scooters on city streets.

The Star Tribune reports the council gave its first round of approval to the ordinance, which would require companies to obtain a license to operate electric scooter rentals, as well as stating scooters would be impounded if they block city streets or sidewalks.

The lack of ordinances didn't concern Minneapolis Chamber of Commerce President Jonathan Weinhagen, who took a ride on one of the scooters on Tuesday.

How does it work?

You can use Bird by downloading its app and becoming a subscriber. A scooter rental costs a flat fee of $1 plus 15 cents for every minute used.

It must be used on roads or bike lanes – not sidewalks – and can reach speeds of up to 15 mph.

Ride-sharing options in the Twin Cities are already about to increase, following on from the success of the Nice Ride docked bike sharing service.

Bike share operator Motivate recently bought out Nice Ride and plans to triple its fleet, including the introduction of dockless bikes to Twin Cities consumers.

But dockless ride sharing services have prompted concerns in other locations, not least in California, where this Instagram account documents scooters that are left strewn across city streets.

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