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City officials want the authority to remove Bird electric scooters

Posted at 6:21 PM, Jul 10, 2018
and last updated 2018-07-10 19:21:55-04

The City of Milwaukee wants to begin seizing electric scooters that a California-based company placed around downtown if the company doesn't voluntarily remove them. 

Bird dropped off its scooters in Milwaukee late last month. 

Alderman Bob Bauman said the company ignored a request from the city to remove the scooters. 

Bauman said the scooters are not legal on streets and sidewalks under state law. 

"Here you have a company that has deliberately thumbed their nose at a state statute," Bauman said. 

Milwaukee is now suing Bird and is scheduled to argue before a judge Friday. 

Deputy City Attorney Adam Stephens said Milwaukee will request the judge order Bird to remove all of its scooters from city streets and sidewalks. 

If the judge grants the motion and the company does not comply, Stephens said city officials want the authority to seize the scooters so they can no longer be rented out. 

Stephens said Bird's arrival in Milwaukee is similar to how Uber and Lyft cracked into the market. They began operating in the area before state lawmakers had finalized regulations on ride-sharing companies. 

"I find it highly offensive that this business practice seems to be a trend - especially with these technology companies," Bauman said. 

Mayor Tom Barrett noted the city wouldn't have the authority to allow the renting of Bird scooters even if it wanted to. He said state law has to be changed to designate the scooters as legal on streets and sidewalks. 

"We'd love to work with them, but we need to work with the state laws," the Mayor said. 

Riders on Bird scooters could be cited almost $100. 

Bauman said he's not aware of Milwaukee Police issuing any such citations yet. 

"I don't want to prosecute users, because I think they're being duped, lied to, and misled," the alderman said. 

"I feel that (Bird) is deceiving the public because they're not telling anybody that operating one of these vehicles is a moving violation for which you can get points, and your insurance can go up," Bauman said.