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'Recipe for disaster': Manitowoc Public Safety Committee shelves adding Bird electric scooters to city streets

Posted at 12:16 PM, Sep 15, 2022
and last updated 2022-09-15 13:16:58-04

MANITOWOC, Wis. (NBC 26) — Hundreds of electric scooters are already zipping around cities like Green Bay.

But that's not the case in Manitowoc. A new proposal would've added 75 Bird scooters to city streets, with one person picking them up.

"That ratio didn't seem to ring right with us as far as cleanliness versus clutter, which is — I think — what we would've had in that situation," Alderperson Bill Schlei said.

On Monday, the Manitowoc Public Safety Committee voted unanimously to place a request for Bird scooters on file, which means the city council won't be hearing about it anytime soon and it's unlikely to be brought up in the future.

"When we have festivals and things like that downtown, it becomes extremely congested," the committee chair said. "And we thought it was a recipe for disaster in that regard."

Schlei says the police department did research and was also opposed.

"Minors can't operate these, but somehow they do because it's the No. 1 reason people are arrested using Bird scooters is they're underage," he said.

A Bird representative gave a presentation at Monday's public safety meeting.

"If there's a high-pedestrian area, a construction zone, we can implement that layer of GPS and throttle down that top speed to 10 mph, to 8 mph," Garrett Gronowski said.

He says a study shows one Bird scooter translates to about $1,000 in extra spending for the local economy. Also, the company can implement a no-park zone.

"We can implement a layer of GPS and you physically could not end your ride," Gronowski said. "You'd continue to be charged and be receiving an error message when you're trying to end your ride."

The Community Development Department says there's been recently renewed interest in the electric scooters. But Schlei doesn't expect it to continue.

"There is the possibility that it could be brought up for discussion in the future, but in my opinion, it's probably very unlikely," he said.