Sequim City councilors agreed last week to a tentative partnership with Bird Rides, Inc. to bring electric stand-up foot scooters into the city.
Whether that happens depends on if the company finds the area economically viable, city staff saidat the July 11 city council meeting.
“It’s still up in the air,” Sequim city manager Matt Huish said.
“They’re still analyzing this market. Even if we’re moving forward, they may choose not to move forward with this market.”
Councilors voted 5-2 to enter into a temporary operating agreement with Bird Rides through Sept. 30, 2023, to bring as many as 60 scooters into the city for people 18 and older to use.
If Bird Rides does come to Sequim, Huish said, it would come at no cost to the city, and it’d take four-six weeks to bring and ready the equipment.
The scooters require a mobile app to pay and ride.
Deputy mayor Brandon Janisse and councilor Kathy Downer voted against the motion, with Downer saying she was concerned about scooters being left throughout the city and someone tripping over them.
Councilor William Armacost said he thought it was a great opportunity as Sequim has “an incredibly active senior community.”
Councilor Lowell Rathbun said he doesn’t think seniors will use scooters, but he’s in favor of reducing carbon emissions.
In April, city staff first brought the idea to the city council after a Bird Rides representative approached the city.
Mike Butler, a Bird Rides representative, told city councilors on July 11 the company is looking at making Sequim a part of a region with neighboring cities to make scooters more feasible here.
Butler said company reps have approached other cities in the area, including Port Angeles.
Port Angeles city manager Nathan West confirmed via email that Bird Rides contacted their staff and they are evaluating their proposal.
They may bring it to Port Angeles city council later this month or in August, West said.
More cold, wet weather is a factor in bringing scooters to an area too, Butler said, but Bird has scooters in Nordic countries and Canada.
They have scooters in about 20 cities with less than 20,000 residents, he said.
Butler told Sequim Mayor Tom Ferrell the company hasn’t pulled out of any cities it partnered with after 12 months. He added that theft of the scooters is little to none in its cities.
Butler also said wreck incidents related to scooters are “pretty insignificant,” with an incident about every 40,000-50,000 trips.
City attorney Kristina Nelson-Gross said the contract with Bird Rides is non-exclusive and another e-scooter vendor could go through the same process with the city as Bird.
City councilors agreed to update the Sequim Municipal Code on July 11 to allow for motorized scooters.
They cannot be used on city streets with speed limits over 25 milers per hours and must follow laws applicable to other motorized vehicles, according to the updated code.
Deputy Chief Mike Hill with the Sequim Police Department said they could go on sidewalks but must yield to pedestrians, not ride recklessly or negligently, or leave them unattended in such a location that would impede or interfere with pedestrians.
Pets or passengers cannot be shared on a scooter or driven at night, the code states, but they can be used on shared paths in the city such as the Olympic Discovery Trail.
For more information about Bird Rides, visit www.bird.co.