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City issues cease & desist letter to bird scooters

Officials express desire to reach agreement, protect right-of-way

FRESNO, CA – The City of Fresno has issued a cease-and-desist letter to Bird Rides Inc. (Bird) and given them until Sunday, September 9, 2018 to remove all of their scooters from the City until an operating policy and a business agreement can be reached.

Bird, a Santa Monica, CA based company that provides dockless electric motorized scooters for public use, did not officially approach City officials to get the proper permissions and licenses, establish a public policy, and create a framework that ensures proper safety and access measures prior to establishing operations in Fresno. The City issued the cease-and-desist order on August 29, 2018 and has had ongoing discussions with Bird to resolve this issue.

“If you want to use the public right-of-way, you have to operate in the public interest,” said Assistant City Manager Jim Schaad.

Bird has been accused of using similar “ask forgiveness instead of permission” tactics in virtually every city in which they have established operations. In response, cities such as San Diego, Boston, Nashville, and Kansas City have either issued cease and desist letters, placed restrictions on their use, or banned them entirely.

In the short time that Bird has been operating in Fresno, the City has received numerous ADA complaints and heard growing concerns about people using scooters without helmets or riding on sidewalks in violation of state law. Users have also left these scooters on lawns or blocking sidewalks and entryways. Similar issues have occurred in many other cities, causing a public backlash that has resulted in numerous complaints on social media and, in extreme cases, vandalism.

Contrary to claims made by Bird to local users in a social media campaign this week stating that Fresno is considering a ban on scooters, City officials have expressed to Bird representatives that the Administration is willing to work with them so they can operate safely and profitably here.

“We want to be business friendly – but friendliness goes both ways. We will continue to embrace different forms of transportation, but not at the expense of safety or public process,” said Fresno Mayor Lee Brand. “We appreciate Bird’s eagerness to establish themselves here before their competitors do, but it’s not fair to the thousands of businesses in Fresno who play by the rules, received the proper permits and licenses, and are operating legally.”

City officials have a meeting scheduled with Bird representatives early next week to discuss parameters for entering into a business agreement.

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