SANTA MONICA (CBSLA) — A transportation startup whose goal it is to help people go green on a smaller scale has hit a bump in the road.
Bird Rides’ scooter service launched in Santa Monica in September, much to the delight of people like Tyler Habit.
“I actually got rid of my car three months ago,” Habit told CBS2 News.
One of the selling points of the service is that a person can get on the scooter, then get off without having to lock up the device anywhere.
“It’s almost exactly like Uber. They’re all over the city,” said one user.
However, that feature became a liability when the City of Santa Monica filed a criminal case against Bird.
The city said a scooter was left blocking a wheelchair on the sidewalk. Additionally, they can’t be driven on sidewalks though they routinely are, and only one person can ride them at a time — no kid passengers.
“It’s very dangerous, and these are high-speed, serious transportation devices,” said Santa Monica Deputy City Manager Anuj Gupta.
Bird entered a plea deal with the city in February and paid more than $300,000 in fines and restitution.
“We’re definitely learning along the way, and we want to do it better every time,” said Patrick Studener, Vice President of Operations for Bird.
This week, the Santa Monica City Council approved temporary regulations, which would charge companies like Bird for impound fees when their devices are left in obstructive places.
Despite the company’s legal troubles, it won’t dissuade Tyler Habit from using them.
“I don’t miss parking. I don’t pay for parking. I don’t get parking tickets anymore,” said Habit.
People are encouraged to be conscious of where they leave the scooters and are warned to wear helmets on instructions placed on the scooters and in the corresponding app.
Santa Monica plans to put permanent rules in place for the scooters by the end of the year.
Bird scooters are currently located in Santa Monica, Venice, around UCLA and San Diego.