PRAIRIE VILLAGE, Kan. —A new pilot program will soon bring electric scooters to Prairie Village.
Tuesday, Mayor Eric Mikkelson broke a 6-6 tied city council vote in favor of issuing a memorandum of understanding with Bird Scooters.
Bird intends to deploy roughly 50 electric Bird Zero scooters throughout Prairie Village as part of a one-year pilot program.
The scooters will be regulated like bicycles. Scooters will be driven on the right side of the street, and in a bike lane whenever possible. Under the current agreement, the scooters can be used anywhere in the city.
City attorney David Waters said if the council were to prohibit scooters in certain portions of the city, it would require the council to create a new ordinance.
In June, Mike Butler with Bird Rides presented a proposed deployment plan to the council. That presentation showed a pilot program beginning in September 2021 and running through August 2022, but the city has not yet set a specific launch date for the pilot program.
Councilmember Ian Graves originally supported the potential pilot program, but said after speaking with residents he has changed his mind.
“It’s been a struggle for me to justify this in the face of feedback that’s either largely indifferent or pretty opposed to it. I’m generally in favor of things like this that kind of move the needle, but at this point it’s been a real struggle to gauge the interest in a positive way,” Graves said.
Other council members expressed concerns about the scooters interfering with local business, or being recklessly used by adults under the influence of alcohol.
Mikkelson said he voted in favor of the pilot program, because the contract allows the city to terminate the program with 30 days notice to Bird if the program becomes problematic.
Riders must be at least 18 years old, wear a helmet and have a valid driver’s license. The scooters can go up to 15 miles per hour and are designed to support only one rider at a time.
According to city documents, Bird scooters are equipped with a speed governing system that can limit speed according to local speed limits.
The scooters can be rented daily from 4 a.m. until midnight using the Bird App.