A second shared scooter company made its debut in Little Rock following the recent decision by city officials to introduce a new municipal framework for drivers and businesses alike.
Electric scooters from Bird, a mobility technology company based in Santa Monica, California, have appeared in the River Market neighborhood of downtown Little Rock.
The first vendor to arrive in Little Rock a little over two years ago was Neutron Holdings Inc., which sells under the brand name Lime Shooter.
Lime scooters appeared to have more devices than Bird’s in the River Market district on Monday, but the arrival of a second shared scooter company promises more options for riders and some sort of competition between vendors.
However, Bird’s arrival is unlikely to allay the concerns of elected city officials who recently tried to regulate the devices with heightened security and zoning restrictions, largely unsuccessful.
The jump-on and jump-off electric scooters from companies like Bird, Lime and Lyft have proliferated in urban areas across the country in recent years. Drivers can unlock them with a mobile app, drive to their destination for a fee, and leave the device behind.
Last year, Little Rock Mayor Frank Scott Jr. urged the city’s board of directors to pass an ordinance that outlines traffic rules for the scooters and allows the city to generate revenue from the equipment.
Scott vetoed the measure in December after city directors passed an amended ordinance adding restrictions on helmet provision and approval and geographic restrictions due to zoning.
“We look forward to resubmitting this ordinance to address the spirit of safety concerns without the harshness and regressive approach our city doesn’t want to be known for,” Scott said at the time.
Another version of the ordinance, which did not contain the provisions Scott found inadmissible, was passed by 6-4 votes in January.
During the debate on the measure, the city’s general manager Dean Kumpuris expressed strong concerns about the safety of the devices.
After seeing that “too many people on motorbikes or mopeds have problems when they are hit by a car,” Kumpuris said he could not in good conscience vote for the measure.
Under the new framework of the city, scooters are to be ridden on the road – especially on bike paths where one is available. Drivers must be at least 16 years old. In addition, drivers under the age of 18 must wear an appropriate helmet in accordance with the regulation.
The new regulation also requires shared scooter companies to pay fees to deploy their devices in the city, namely an annual franchise fee of $ 10,000 and a license fee of $ 75 for every device that operates in the city or uses the right of way of the city.
According to Stephanie Jackson, a mayor’s spokeswoman, Bird got approval for 300 scooters and Lime for 512.
Jackson on Monday presented records showing that both Bird and Lime paid tens of thousands of dollars to sell their scooters in the Little Rock market.
In February, Lime paid the franchise fee of $ 10,000 and an additional fee of $ 38,200. A separate payment of $ 200 was made in October 2020, according to a receipt.
Later that month, on February 24, Bird paid the city $ 10,000 for the franchise fee and $ 22,500 for the $ 75 fee for its 300 devices, records show.
A Bird spokeswoman did not immediately respond to a request for comment from the Arkansas Democrat Gazette on Monday.