KANSAS CITY, Mo. - Bird and it's up to 500 scooters landed in Kansas City last month. But it quickly ruffled feathers of the Country Club Plaza, which deemed the area a no-ride zone after expressing safety concerns.
"Since our streets are public, the city was within its rights to make the decision to allow Bird to operate on the Plaza without involving our management team. After safety incidents resulted in numerous customer and tenant complaints, Bird is pausing its operations until we can assess whether scooters are the right addition to our pedestrian-heavy district," Meredith Keeler, Country Club Plaza general manager, said on Aug. 8.
This week a Bird spokesperson said the ban has been lifted and released the following statement:
“Following recent conversations with representatives from the Country Club Plaza and Plaza area business owners regarding rider education programs, Bird is lifting the ‘No Ride Zone’ distinction for this area. In an effort to help promote safety on the Plaza, Bird has invited Plaza ownership to partner on a helmet giveaway event and offered to deploy Safety Ambassadors in the area. These Ambassadors will educate the community about proper Bird riding and parking, including the local rules that prohibit sidewalk riding. We look forward to continuing this open dialogue with our friends on the Plaza."
But a spokesperson for Country Club Plaza couldn't confirm the ban had been lifted or if any of the measures Bird announced were in the works.
“Plaza officials met with Bird and conveyed our concerns over the safety of our customers. We will continue to encourage Bird and city representatives to do all they can to ensure pedestrian and passenger safety," Keeler said.
The issue seems to stem from riders' confusion with Kansas City ordinances or unwillingness to follow them. Riders are supposed to use bike lanes, but in areas without them are still prohibited from riding on sidewalks. Riders caught on sidewalks can be issued a $40 ticket.
"I would prefer to be on the sidewalk rather than in the street," Bethany Hitchcock said.
Bird recommends riders wear a helmet and will ship one to you for free, but helmets don't come with the scooters you'll find left all over town.
"You are supposed to wear a helmet. I'm not. But if I get hurt, that's my fault. No one else's," Morgan Drown said.