Peoria ends pilot program with Bird Scooter Company, seeks alternative transportation solutions

PEORIA – From bike rental services to electric scooters, alternate shared transportation has had a profound impact on how people get around in cities across the country.

The city has been exploring these opportunities with the use of electric scooters along key bus routes to serve as the “first mile, last mile” transportation for residents. A recent pilot program ended when a proposed temporary contract with the electric scooter company, Bird, could not be finalized in a way that would protect the city and its taxpayers, according to Peoria.

In the fall of 2018, Bird’s electric scooters rapidly appeared on the streets of Peoria.

Prior to the arrival of the commercial scooters, Peoria’s city ordinance did not allow for this type of commercial transportation on streets or sidewalks. The city worked quickly to create a temporary operating agreement to manage the scooters.

A pilot program was developed to study the use and operation of Bird’s scooters. This program was intended to evaluate how this new transportation system would be used, while balancing public safety concerns.

Specifically, the city would allow commercial scooters to be deployed and ridden in Peoria, while implementing interim regulations. The city was to evaluate issues such as safety, demand, usage, code compliance, economic impact and community response.

Soon after the city council approved a temporary operating agreement for the pilot program, Bird made major handwritten changes to the approved agreement, according to Peoria.

The city says one of these changes would have placed significant liability, risk and exposure to lawsuits and claims against the city and its taxpayers. As a result, the agreement was never finalized, and Bird will conclude its operations in Peoria.

“Our goal is to make transportation in Peoria accessible to all, whether it be the new circulator bus route, bike lanes or alternative personal transportation,” said Peoria City Manager Jeff Tyne. “A variety of transportations options ensures that our residents’ transportation needs are met in an affordable and sustainable way. While doing so, it is important to consider the safety and wellbeing of the community.”

Peoria will continue to evaluate alternative transportation opportunities to assess what options are best suited for Peoria residents.