Jul. 7—Electric scooter company Bird won’t be building a nest in Astoria.
The City Council decided not to proceed with a possible pilot program for the pay-to-ride vehicles in a unanimous vote at a meeting Tuesday night.
Bird needed permission to use city rights of way to stage scooters downtown and had proposed launching an initial test run of around 75 scooters in Astoria.
A company representative touted the scooters as a low-cost option for commuters and tourists, but city councilors were worried about safety risks and other problems that could arise, especially during the busy summer months.
At a city work session in June, Mayor Bruce Jones and City Councilor Tom Brownson were in favor of discussing the logistics of a pilot program with Bird, but Councilor Joan Herman and Councilor Roger Rocka were opposed. City Councilor Tom Hilton said he was personally not in favor of developing a program with Bird, but wanted to hear more feedback from the community.
Over the past few weeks, city councilors received a flood of comments, emails and texts about the scooters — on par with what city leaders saw during discussions about a controversial hotel proposal, Jones said.
The response from residents to the electric scooter proposal was a resounding, “No,” city councilors said.
Both Jones and Brownson said they had rethought their previously held positions as a result. They shared their constituents’ concerns about safety and irresponsible scooter operators and would vote against developing a pilot scooter program with Bird, they said.
The company recommends but does not require riders to wear helmets — a significant concern, Jones said.
“It’s not going to work for Astoria, as far as I’m concerned,” Brownson said.
But, he noted, the only reason the City Council had any say in this electric scooter proposal was because the company needed access to city property. Another company with a physical storefront could choose to rent out scooters without first consulting the city.