The Birds are back in town.
After Metro issued a cease-and-desist to Bird for its dockless electric scooters over the summer, Mayor David Briley approved an ordinance on Aug. 29 which will allow these “Shared Urban Mobility Devices” to operate in Nashville — with regulation.
At Belmont, dockless, rented scooters or bicycles are not allowed to be operated or left on university property because of the safety concerns they create, said Belmont Chief of Campus Security Pat Cunningham.
“Operating the scooters on walkways could present a hazard to pedestrians, and that practice also creates concerns of scooters blocking doorways, walkways and emergency access,” said Cunningham. “Plus, having scooters left on campus would mean we’d have persons not affiliated with Belmont coming out each evening searching through campus looking for scooters.”
The university is allowed to make this rule because SUMD permits are “valid only for operations within the public right-of-way within the jurisdiction of Metro. Additional zones may be established for other locations upon coordination with the appropriate department, agency, and/or property owner,” according to the ordinance.
Right now, Lime and Bird are the two dockless scooter companies which have received permits from the government, but more companies could potentially apply for permits through the Metropolitan Transportation Licensing Commission.
Belmont communicated its policy to both Lime and Bird, and the companies will be working with Belmont to enforce the rule.
“If we find their vehicles parked on campus property they will be placed in storage. The company will be responsible for collecting them,” Cunningham said. “It’s our understanding from our earlier conversation that the apps these companies use include the ability to identify areas in which their use is prohibited. We expect the companies to communicate to their users that the scooters are not permitted to be operated, stored or present on any Belmont property.”
Lime set up a geofence around Belmont’s campus so that rides won’t be available there. They will also regularly check to make sure no scooters have been left on campus, said Angelina Wang, a representative for Lime.
Bird was unable to provide comment after multiple requests.
“We are thrilled to be in Nashville, and look forward to continuing our collaborative discussions with the city. As with every launch, we view clear communication with the city and colleges as an essential part of introducing the smart mobility movement to new communities,” Wang said.
Photo by Abigail Bowen