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Why one metro Phoenix city and Bird scooters are parting ways

(KTAR News Photo/Kevin Stone)

PHOENIX – The marriage between Peoria and Bird scooters just wasn’t meant to be. The sides couldn’t even agree on who called it off.

The city announced Thursday that it was ending a test program with Bird, alleging that the dockless scooter provider tried to alter its agreement with the West Valley suburb in a way that could have exposed the city to potential lawsuits.

However, Bird said it made the decision to leave the program and called the city’s regulations “onerous.”

In a press release, Peoria said Bird scooters started appearing on its streets and sidewalks in the fall of 2018, even though city ordinance did not allow for that type of commercial transportation.

The city said it created a temporary operating agreement with Bird so it could evaluate the scooters’ viability and safety.

Peoria Press Release on Scribd

However, after the City Council approved the agreement, Bird made “major handwritten changes,” according to the release.

“One of these changes would have placed significant liability, risk and exposure to lawsuits and claims against the city and its taxpayers,” the release said.

“As a result the agreement was never finalized, and Bird will conclude its operations in Peoria.”

Bird told a different story in a letter sent to the city Wednesday and provided to KTAR News 92.3 FM.

Notice to Withdraw on Scribd

“Bird is unable to agree to the onerous regulations promulgated by the city, and must move to withdraw our fleet from operations in Peoria,” the letter read.

The letter cited fees that were higher than in most U.S. cities and regulations that were overreaching.

Bird also expressed concern about “Peoria’s insistence that we indemnify the city for its own negligence,” which would pose an “unnecessarily high risk” for the company.

“Despite our numerous attempts to work with city council and city staff to reach an agreeable solution for all parties, we are left with no other option in the face of uniquely burdensome taxes and excessive over-regulation,” the letter read.

Peoria isn’t closing the door permanently on scooters and will continue to explore alternative transportation options, including bicycle rentals, the city’s release said.

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