NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — Norfolk is looking into the sudden appearance of nearly 70 Bird scooters throughout the city.
City spokesperson Lori Crouch said the Bird scooters started popping up this morning. The Bird app showed numerous scooters scattered throughout the city.
According to its website, Bird is an “electric vehicle sharing” where you can find and “unlock” a scooter through a mobile app and start riding for $1. Bird is currently available in Arlington and Richmond, but its website does not list Norfolk as a location.
The service is similar to the Pace bike share that launched in Norfolk earlier this year. For Pace, it costs riders $1 every half hour to rent a bike.
Crouch said Bird did not work with the city on this at all, and they didn’t get a permit for encroaching on a right of way.
“We were surprised we had seen news reports in other city, so we were aware this was happening, but I have to say that finding out about it this morning that they had been placed in our right of way without any communication in advance was a little surprising,” said Crouch.
The city has reached out to the company, and is in the process of gathering up all of the scooters in the meantime.
Andria McClellan, a Norfolk city councilmember, also tweeted about the issue, saying in part, “this in the middle of the night approach is totally unacceptable and does not make me inclined to support the company.”
Crouch says this doesn’t mean the city is against bringing the Bird scooters to Norfolk, just not under these circumstances.
“We welcome all kinds of innovative transportation options. A scooter is an innovative transportation way to get around, but we would say before you put things in our right of way that you work with us first so we can make sure that’s done appropriately and properly,” added Crouch.
It turns out Norfolk isn’t the only city in Hampton Roads where the scooters have appeared.
Several of them have been spotted in Virginia Beach as well.
Officials at the Commissioner of the Revenue’s Office confirmed the company did get a business license there.
However, Virginia Beach Communications Director, Julie Hill, says since the company does not need a license because they don’t have a physical presence in the city.
Instead, she says the company would need to pay business property taxes on the scooters it has in Virginia Beach.
Separately, Hill says the people who they hire to charge the scooters would be 1099 employees.
She says they would need their own licenses and they have not had any people apply for them.