LimeBike, the California-based dockless bikeshare company has joined similar company Bird putting electric scooters on Austin streets, the Austin American-Statesman’s Ben Wear reported Monday. The company has been waiting until such regulations were in place to launch in Austin, Wear reported, but it made approximately 200 electric scooters available to share Monday after Bird took a similar action Friday. The latter company made 50 or so of its electric scooters available for sharing, which caused a kerfuffle and a brief impounding of the scooters but ultimately drew no legal action.
The companies’ recent moves are part of a chain reaction that began when the city left scooters off the agenda when it began a series of sessions to gather community input about a proposed pilot dockless bikesharing program. After being denied the opportunity to “pitch” the city on its model, or even display its scooter, at a recent public forum, dockless scooter-sharing company Bird responded by simply launching its fleet.
The tactic seems to be working, at least if the intention is to speed up the city’s process in getting regulations in place for such businesses. Bird’s initial move got scooters included in the city’s transportation department discussions almost immediately after it put its vehicles on the streets. According to Wear, David Estrada, Bird’s chief legal officer and government relations head, said that “it is his understanding that the full Austin City Council will have a hearing, and perhaps a vote, on the proposed ordinance as soon as April 26.” In terms of the city’s usual process for creating and passing new ordinances, that’s lightning-fast.