Bird Pulls Out of Oxford, Leaving Lime to Rule the Scooter Business

By Coburn Gillies

Bird, the original ride-sharing scooter company in Oxford, apparently has flown away. The company’s scooters have not been seen on Oxford’s streets since the end of fall semester, according to Oxford city officials.

“To our knowledge, Bird did not come back at the beginning of the (spring) semester,” City Manager Douglas Elliott said. “They have permission to return but they have not.”

Bird, based in California, quickly followed by rival company, Lime, debuted on Oxford’s streets last October. The electric scooters are activated by customers with a cell phone app that charges users by the mile. The scooters go between 10 and 15 miles per hour, and when a customer finishes a ride, the scooter is simply parked and it is available for another customer. Both Bird and Lime have fleets of scooters in cities all over the world, according to the company websites.

Each company paid a $300 application fee to Oxford when they started operating here.

The companies generally halt operations in very cold or inclement weather. Lime scooters reappeared on Oxford’s streets early in the spring semester, but the Birds did not. According to city economic development director G. Alan Kyger, a conference call earlier this week was held between city officials, representatives of the two companies, Miami University’s general counsel and representatives of the Oxford and Miami police departments.

The university had asked for the conference, Kyger said, because it wanted to go over the rules for operating the scooters on campus. During that call, Bird indicated it was “reevaluating their markets national,” said Charles Kennick chairman of the Student-Community Relations Commission, which has been a strong supporter of the scooters.

Kyger said he sent Bird the following email on April 8: “My question today is concerning the status of Bird operations in Oxford as Miami has returned from break. It’s perfect scooter weather, does Bird plan to return to the Oxford market, and if so, when?” So far, Bird has not responded.

Bird has not responded to repeated requests for comment from the Observer.