Electric scooter rentals debut in Twin Cities ahead of Mpls. vote
Low-power electric scooters have arrived in the Twin Cities, just hours before Minneapolis City Council members plan to act to regulate them.
Bird scooters started showing up on Twin Cities sidewalks by the dozens before rush hour Tuesday, part of a nationwide wave of low-cost, app-based shared transportation alternatives.
The company had suggested it was planning to expand to Minnesota in online ads, but it wasn’t clear exactly when that would happen until company personnel started putting the scooters out on sidewalks.
One worker told MPR News that Tuesday was the first day of the rentals.
The California-based company’s app initially showed the scooters in downtown Minneapolis and St. Paul, along Summit and University avenues and in northeast Minneapolis.
The company didn’t immediately respond to an inquiry about its Minnesota debut or its plans for the future in the area.
The scooters are rented via a phone-based app that collects payment information, asks for personal identification, and tracks usage of the scooter.
The app also requires a multi-step user agreement that says riders have to wear helmets, have a valid driver’s license and other requirements. The initial cost is $1, with another 15 cents a minute to ride.
The deployment comes as a Minneapolis City Council panel meets at 10 a.m. Tuesday to approve an ordinance to regulate what the city describes as low-power foot scooters.
It will require an agreement with the city and allows the city to impound unlicensed or illegally parked scooters.
The scooters have sparked controversy in other places around the country, with some cities complaining about riders zipping along sidewalks, riding unsafely in traffic and leaving the scooters in places where they block foot and other traffic.
Officials in Denver seized hundreds of the scooters in June from Bird and Lime, another scooter rental company. They also threatened fines ranging up to $1,000 per scooter, according to news reports.
City officials in Minneapolis, St. Paul and Roseville didn’t immediately respond to inquiries seeking comment.