- The two companies that brought dockless electric scooters to Miami — Lime and Bird — have removed the devices from the city after just having released them there in April and May, respectively, according to the Miami Herald.
- The companies received cease and desist letters from city attorneys, indicating they violated Florida statutes.
- The Miami City Commission is scheduled to discuss electric scooters at a meeting later this week.
Miami is the latest on a growing list of cities that have taken action against dockless scooter and/or dockless bike operators when their devices suddenly appeared throughout the community. Nashville, TN issued Bird a cease and desist order just a day after dockless scooter service launched there, and Denver did the same with Bird and Lime.
Denver leaders report working on regulations governing dockless scooters, as has been the case in Austin, TX after that city ordered companies to remove vehicles until a licensing system goes into effect. Likewise, San Francisco impounded dozens of dockless scooters before beginning work on regulations. Sudden dockless bike releases have been met with similarly unfavorable responses in cities like Dallas and Coronado, CA.
The latest incident should clearly manifest to dockless companies that cities don't like being surprised with an influx of scooters and bikes in public spaces without regulations in place governing their use. By the same token, cities should be well aware that the dockless craze is coming their way — if it hasn't arrived already — and it would serve them well to have a plan in place for how to handle it.
Cities' concerns are valid, in that dockless vehicles can create a clutter problem in public spaces, in addition to posing safety and accessibility risks if left in inappropriate places. Without dockless regulations, cities also stand to lose out on licensing revenue other businesses have to pay.
Dockless operators' desire to expand their businesses and provide a beneficial service are valid considerations as well. But swooping in and releasing bikes in an area without consulting leaders might not be the best marketing strategy, as it sours officials on the business idea before negotiations even begin.
The CEO of Bird previously had invited other scooter- and bike-share companies to join him in signing a "Save Our Sidewalks" pledge with guidelines for operating a responsible vehicle-sharing business. But that idea never gained traction and some viewed it as disingenuous.
Dockless bike- and scooter-share company Spin recently released its own "partnership promise," in which it vowed to get permission from proper city and transit authorities before launching in a new market. That move likely will endear the company to municipal leaders and could provide a competitive advantage if cities view it as an business that will "play nice" with government.
Entities on both sides of the dockless argument could stand to improve to avoid further conflicts. The longer businesses and governments remain at odds on the dockless vehicle front, the more consumers lose out on using valuable goods and services.