BOZEMAN — When electric scooters first began to show up in Bozeman, Chamber of Commerce CEO Daryl Schliem thought it would be a great business partnership for the city. He also thought it would be an easy alternative for people in Bozeman to get around without using a vehicle.
However, Schliem’s opinion has recently changed.
“What started out to be a very good community partnership and a way of transportation has ended up being a disaster for public safety in Bozeman and Gallatin County,” said Schliem.
The concept is simple: Unlock the scooter with your phone, then zoom off. But where do you park the scooters when the ride is over? And who picks them up?
Fleet managers are people employed by the Bird Scooter company. Stray scooters are usually picked up by fleet managers every night and brought back to a charging station. However, Schliem said the person in charge of that job in Bozeman has been unavailable.
“As of right now, the person who was doing that job in the beginning, no longer has a phone connection that works, nor has he returned any of our emails,” said Schliem.
Bird recommends riders neatly park their scooter upright and out of the way when they end a ride, but some riders tend to drop their scooter off in inconvenient places.
This has left Bozeman locals feeling extremely frustrated. The Chamber of Commerce has received dozens of calls about scooters being left in the middle of the road, behind cars, and in the middle of sidewalks.
Just because there are restrictions for where you can park a Bird scooter, doesn’t mean they’re actually enforced. Bird’s app warns riders when they are in a no-parking zone, and urges them to move out of it, however, a rider can override the suggestion and still end the trip.
Schliem said the biggest complaint the chamber has received is people taking scooters off the road.
“People are using them as a fun ATV type of vehicle,” said Schliem.
These abandoned scooters are also triggering complaints on social media from locals who are irritated with the clutter and blocked sidewalks.
One Bozeman local wrote: “The scooters can be annoying. They get left in my yard sometimes because I live near students. They also ride them on the sidewalks.”
Another wrote: “How come they’re just laying abandoned all over the place? I walked my normal route this evening and passed four of them either laying in people's driveways and on the sidewalks.”
If you would like to report a misplaced scooter, Schliem recommends you contact Bird by phone at 866-205-2442 or email them at Hello@bird.co