Cambridge, Somerville issue cease and desists for Bird scooters

bird scooters, electric scooters
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Bird scooters may soon have to leave their nests in Cambridge and Somerville.

This week, both Cambridge and Somerville have sent cease and desist letters to Bird, the company behind the rideshare electric scooters that appeared on city streets without warning recently.

“The City of Cambridge issued a cease and desist notice to Bird ordering them to remove their scooters from Cambridge within 48 hours,” a city official said in a statement on Wednesday.

It’s not that Cambridge is against this new transportation option completely, the city said, but that the deployment of Bird scooters “must occur in a regulated and controlled manner, particularly given concerns around safety and blocking of access to the City’s publicly owned property, streets and sidewalks.”

bird scooters cambridge cease and desist

Cambridge officials met with Bird representatives earlier this week. While the meeting was “positive when it comes to overall goals and objectives,” a city spokesperson said, Cambridge officials are concerned about safety, equity, operations and data sharing.

Cambridge’s cease and desist of Bird scooters, issued Aug. 1, came right on the heels of Somerville’s. On Tuesday, Somerville officials issued a cease and desist to the company, saying that any Bird scooter “found within City limits on or after August 2, 2018 will be confiscated by the City.”

Are Bird Scooters legal in Massachusetts?

In the cease and desist letters, Cambridge and Somerville officials noted that Bird must comply with city regulations regarding licensing and ordinances pertaining to obstacles left on sidewalks or city streets.

But Bird scooters are also getting pushback from state officials. The Massachusetts Department of Transportation is reviewing Bird scooters to see if they violate state law.

Massachusetts state law requires that motorized scooters have brake lights and turn signals “so that the operator can keep both hands on the handlebars at all times.” Bird scooters do not have these lights.

Bird scooters have appeared without warning in other cities across the country as well, and the company has subsequently been issued cease and desist orders in municipalities such as Los Angeles, San Francisco and Nashville. After a scooter ban in San Francisco, a spokesperson for Bird told the SF Streetsblog that, “All Birds are off the street in SF and we are submitting our permit application tomorrow.”

In response to request for comment regarding the Cambridge and Somerville cease and desist orders, a Bird spokesperson said that, “We are in contact with city officials in Cambridge and Somerville respectively, and we look forward to continuing our productive conversations with them so that Bird’s service can continue in each of the cities.” 

“We want to partner with scooter companies, but this needs to happen in a deliberate and organized way, with greater oversight from the city,” a Cambridge city spokesperson said. “We will continue talking with Bird and Lime operators and look forward to coming up with a way to allow them to resume or start operations in the near future, with the proper permits and approvals. Our hope is that Bird will recognize that this is the right approach and take a pause in their deployment so that we can work out these issues and roll out scooter service in a positive manner later this year.”

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