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Prairie Village is getting rid of Bird's electric scooters in August — here's why

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Juliana Garcia
/
Shawnee Mission Post
Bird scooters are leaving Prairie Village at the end of the month when the one-year pilot program expires. A city council committee on Monday rejected a proposal to extend the pilot another year.

Prairie Villagers will have until the end of this month to enjoy puttering around the city on Bird electric scooters.

The city council’s Committee of the Whole on Monday decided against renewing the city’s one-year pilot program with Bird Rides, Inc., which would have kept the dockless, pay-as-you-go vehicles on city streets for another year.

Additionally, a memorandum of understanding the committee discussed would have included automatic renewals for six-month terms, if approved, unless either party terminated the agreement.

City documents show that the 35 Bird scooters on the ground resulted in a total of 1,310 total rides over the past year.

That adds up to a total of 2,358 miles traveled and 0.33 metric tonnes of carbon dioxide saved, according to city documents.

Councilmember Dave Robinson brought up concerns about holes in the data, including how many actual riders the 1,310 total rides represented.

Kylee Floodman, a Bird Rides representative, told Robinson the 1,310 total rides includes both unique riders as well as repeat riders, and the ridership documented over the past year in Prairie Village is expected for a city of its size.

Robinson shared concerns that the lack of high usage may signal a lack of interest in scooter services in the suburb.

Safety concerns

Aside from lack of usage, several councilmembers expressed concerns about safety and negative resident feedback.

Some, like Councilmember Inga Selders, said she’s heard from a resident in a wheelchair who was unable to get around scooters parked at the Shops of Prairie Village.

Councilmember Chad Herring said he still worries about safety issues with scooters, including riders falling off or getting injured.

Others, including Councilmember Courtney McFadden said the city council wanted to encourage eco-friendly transportation, and the scooters should be embraced.

Later during the discussion, Herring said he’s not sure the scooters had a significant environmental impact.

Ultimately, a renewal of the agreement with Bird was rejected by a vote of 7-3.

Selders, Herring, Robinson, along with Councilmembers Cole Robinson, Ron Nelson, Lauren Wolf and Terrence Gallagher voted against moving the MOU forward to the city council. McFadden and Councilmembers Ian Graves and Piper Reimer voted to move the MOU forward. Councilmembers Bonnie Limbird and Greg Shelton were absent.

“Residents in Ward 2 that I’ve spoken to adamantly want these out of here, they do not like them, they are not popular” Selders said. “I have seen maybe one to two times ever being used across the street from where I live, and those times have been literally somebody circling the parking lot and putting them back.”

How we got here

Prairie Village City Council approved the trial run last September, in a split vote with Mayor Eric Mikkelson casting the deciding vote.

The split vote came after councilmembers heard concerns from some residents, many of whom did not support the idea of electronic, dockless scooters in the city.

While one half of the council at the time voted in opposition — largely due to resident concerns — the ones who supported the pilot program saw it as a way to implement various modes of transportation in the city.

City Administrator Wes Jordan told the Shawnee Mission Post he believes, based on the council’s decision not to extend the MOU, the scooters will be removed from the city by Sept. 1.

City Attorney David Waters told the city council that even if the MOU is not in place, scooters in general — maybe not Bird scooters — might still be seen in the city.

That’s because scooters are allowed to be in the city per state law, he said.

This story was originally published on the Shawnee Mission Post.

Juliana Garcia is a reporter with the Shawnee Mission Post.
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