Bird Rides announced they’re pulling their e-scooters out of St. Joe and Benton Harbor

NOW: Bird Rides announced they’re pulling their e-scooters out of St. Joe and Benton Harbor

BERRIEN COUNTY, Mich. – Bird Rides announced they’re pulling their e-scooters out of St. Joe and Benton Harbor.

The scooters were first introduced over Memorial Day weekend, with fifty of them in both cities, ready for the start of Summer and the Senior PGA Tournament.

But as soon as they were in use, residents started issuing complaints.

St. Joe’s City Manager John Hodgson said “Right away, there were a lot of citizen concerns about scooters being left, parking on sidewalks, left in folks’ lawns, really, kind of user issues, that the folks who were using them weren’t using them in the manner they were intended.”

Even residents ABC57 spoke with at the time worried that they would be vandalized and become eye-sores.

At a recent event, Cornerstone Alliance President Rob Cleveland brought up the Bird scooters.

“There are things that happen that set us back,” he said. “And one of those things that happened recently was the scooters. That was a setback for our community.”

Hodgson said they worked with Bird Rides to address the complaints, by limiting the speeds and places the scooters could be used, and even brought the number of scooters down to twenty, while Benton Harbor was still on track to receive fifty scooters.

It was around that time when issues with Bird started.

“We never really saw that deployment happen,” Hodgson said

According to him, by late June, Bird’s fleet manager for both Benton Harbor and St. Joe was no longer employed by the company, though right before the Fourth of July, Bird Rides informed the city that a new manager had been found and would continue to oversee the scooter delivery.

The few scooters that were in town at the time, however, saw very limited use.

“Thirty-three percent of all the rides on the Bird scooters happened in the first three days they were deployed over Memorial Day weekend, and forty percent in the first four days they were deployed,” said Hodgson. “Only one percent of the rides have happened in the last five weeks. As a practical matter, Bird operations in the city stopped more than a month ago.”

On August 1, Hodgson was informed in an email from Caitlin Goodspeed, Senior Account Manager at Bird, that the company would instead be pulling out from both cities, terminating their contract, in a statement that-- in part-- said: “…we do not see an immediate path to supporting our near term requirements for building an enduring business in St. Joseph.”

The scooters will be removed by the end of the month.

“It’s unfortunate,” Hodgson said. “It feels like an experiment that didn’t have a result, because we never really saw what would happen with the management tools in place and a number of scooters out to see what would happen.”

Though Hodgson did add that Bird Rides could still return to the city, and hoped they would see different results.

“We’d have some things to talk about, I’m sure,” he said. “We’d hear from residents, who’d have greater experiences now from what they saw over the two months that they were here to make suggestions, comments, and to express their thoughts on the matter.”

Bird has not responded to our request for comment.

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