City Council committee still concerned about Bird scooter safety

Cincinnati City Council is calling for new regulations for the Bird scooters zipping all over downtown and Over-the-Rhine. (WKRC)

OVER-THE-RHINE, Ohio (WKRC) - They don't want to clip the wings of the Bird, but they do want it to fly more safely.

Cincinnati City Council is calling for new regulations for the Bird scooters zipping all over downtown and Over-the-Rhine.

The 15-mile-per-hour electric scooters were dropped on city streets in July with no notice to City Hall -- a guerrilla marketing tactic that grabbed a lot of attention.

The city did get Bird to agree to some short-term restrictions: no more than 200 scooters, a 24-hour hotline and a speed limit, among other things.

But Council's Major Projects Committee is still not happy. The panel Wednesday said Bird should have to pay damages to pedestrians who may be hit by the scooters and also said the city should issue what's called a request for proposals. Whatever company is chosen, whether it's Bird or somebody else, gets a franchise to operate in Cincinnati.

"I know it's a lot of fun for a lot of people. I prefer to walk, but the number of complaints in just a few weeks is pretty severe and can't be ignored," said council member Greg Landsman.

It's also not clear who is going to enforce new laws on the scooters.

"That's another reason why I think a partnership is better than just saying 'here's the new law' and then let everyone come in and adhere to that new law, because I think compliance is going to be mixed at best," Landsman said.

There is a $100 fine for riding on the sidewalk or riding without a helmet, but police are, for now, just issuing warnings.

Landsman says using an request for proposals could give the city more power over the scooter company if rules are frequently broken.

The issue on Bird scooters and what to do about a longer-term contract or ordinance should land back at City Hall in a few weeks.

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