City Issues Cease and Desist to Bird Scooters

An image from the Bird app.

The City of Cambridge issued Bird a cease and desist order on Wednesday, demanding that the company take its scooters off city streets within 48 hours, according to a city spokesperson.

The electric, dockless scooters showed up in Cambridge in mid-July with no warning to city officials. Bird scooters are designed to be used for short trips to cut down on driving, according to a company spokesperson. Fifteen is the magic number for the scooters: Trips cost 15 cents per minute (on top of a $1 base fee), the scooters go up to 15 miles per hour, and a charge lasts about 15 minutes.

Days after their launch City Manager Louis A. DePasquale wrote to Bird officials to say their operation was illegal without proper permitting.

DePasquale issued the cease and desist order after a July 30 meeting with Bird.

“While our meeting was positive, unless and until the appropriate City officials determine that Bird may safely operate in the City, and under what conditions, Bird is not permitted to deploy, operate, and store its electric scooters in the City,” DePasquale wrote in the letter, which a city spokesperson shared with Scout.

“We have concerns about issues such as safety, equity, operations, and data sharing,” Director of Communications Lee Gianetti told Scout in an email. “We want to partner with scooter companies, but this needs to happen in a deliberate and organized way, with greater oversight from the City … 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.”

Bird operates in several other cities throughout the country, including Atlanta, Denver, and Los Angeles, and started serving Somerville on the same day as Cambridge. The scooter company ran into trouble in San Francisco earlier this year when the city sent a cease and desist letter and a city attorney called Bird “a public nuisance” and “unlawful,” according to Bloomberg.