Bird scooters could be headed to Prairie Village after council advances pilot proposal

Prairie Village Bird Scooter

The Prairie Village city council advanced a proposal for a nine-month pilot deployment of Bird electric scooters in the city. Some members of the council raised concerns about clutter and safety, but the council ultimately voted unanimously to move to the next step. Photo credit Phillip Pessar. Used under a Creative Commons license.

Bird Scooters could start showing up in Prairie Village in the coming months after the city council this week gave preliminary approval to a pilot program for the dockless electric vehicles.

Why it matters: Prairie Village is the latest Johnson County city to enter discussions with a scooter company about bringing the vehicles to their streets. Overland Park also recently advanced an e-scooter pilot.

The scooters have become a popular means of getting around in urban areas across the country since Bird debuted in 2017. While they’ve been welcomed as a more environmentally friendly way to make short trips than a car, they also pose safety and clutter concerns.

What happens next: The Prairie Village city council will in the coming weeks consider a formal pilot program agreement that would permit Bird to use the city’s right-of-way.

If approved, the agreement would allow for the start of a nine-month pilot program in the city. A fleet of Bird scooters would then be delivered to Prairie Village and made available to rent.

Concerns about safety, clutter: Members of the governing body indicated they would be keeping a close eye on how the pilot unfolded.

Several city councilmembers said they were worried about scooters being abandoned in residents’ yards after use. Others expressed safety concerns, worrying that the scooters could pose a collision risk for pedestrians or cyclists.

Councilmember Inga Selders noted that she worked in the Crossroads area when e-scooters made their debut a few years ago in Kansas City, Mo.

“Countless times they were laying on the sidewalks, all along Southwest Boulevard, and they were there for a significant amount of time,” Selders said. “The amount of people we have out on our sidewalks, I’m worried they could be a hazard for people riding their bikes.”

Selders ultimately voted in favor of advancing the pilot, but said it was important for the company and city officials to listen to residents about how things go.

“I really think that if we’re going to consider this at all we need to have some public engagement,” Selders said.

The nine members of the council present at Monday’s meeting all voted in favor of advancing the pilot idea.

Councilmembers Dan Runion, Jori Nelson and Sheila Myers were absent.