Bird scooters are coming to Prairie Village after divided city council approves pilot program

Prairie Village Bird scooters

The city of Prairie Village on Tuesday agreed to enter a one-year pilot program with Bird Rides Inc., to bring at least 50 scooters to Prairie Village at its launch. The city council was evenly split in its vote on the pilot, with Mayor Eric Mikkelson casting the tie-breaking vote. Above, Bird scooters are parked in Kansas City, Mo. File photo.

Electronic dockless scooters are headed to Prairie Village.

The Prairie Village City Council on Tuesday evening narrowly approved entering a memorandum of understanding with e-scooter company Bird Rides, Inc. to bring a fleet of at least 50 scooters to the city for a one-year pilot program.

The council split evenly on the issue 6-6, and the tie-breaking vote when to Mayor Eric Mikkelson, who voted in favor of the pilot program.

It’s not yet clear when Bird scooters will begin appearing on city streets.

Council discussion

Several councilmembers spoke in opposition to bringing scooters to Prairie Village streets, including Inga Selders, who has raised opposition to a pilot program at previous governing body meetings.

Selders said Tuesday that she has continued talking to residents about the idea of Bird scooters, and many remain “adamantly opposed.”

“I’m looking at my list of pros of cons and I’m not seeing any pros, and my cons list is a mile long,” Selders said.

Selders said she doesn’t see how it will be useful in the Prairie Village community. She repeated concerns raised in prior discussions that riders under the age of 18 could use the scooters, as well as the possibility of people operating the scooters while intoxicated.

Councilmember Ian Graves shared similar concerns, also citing resident feedback.

Graves said while he himself is into technology and would normally support a pilot program, he couldn’t support something given “where the residents are at.”

But others, like Councilmember Tucker Poling, spoke in favor of Bird bringing a fleet of scooters to Prairie Village.

Poling said he’s open to exploring different, non-vehicular modes of transportation — and thinks the one-year pilot is a good move.

“I think this is a controlled way to do it in a way that we can manage it and get feedback from our community as to whether it’s going to work for us in the long run,” Poling said.

Ultimately, Poling, along with Councilmembers Piper Reimer, Ron Nelson, Courtney McFadden, Bonnie Limbird and Sheila Myers voted in favor of the program.

Selders, Graves, along with Councilmembers Dan Runion, Terrence Gallagher, Chad Herring and Jori Nelson voted against the pilot.

Mikkelson cast the deciding vote.

What happens next

There is no date yet for when Birds will arrive in Prairie Village, but at least 50 scooters are planned for the launch.

The scooters will be able to be operated from 4 a.m. to 12 a.m. daily, and the company and city can work together to add more scooters or create restricted zones based on usage and concerns.

Bird scooters are intended for use only by people 18 and older who have a valid driver’s license.

To ride, users must first scan a valid driver’s license on Bird’s app and are then sent unique QR codes to ride particular scooters. The motorized scooters are not supposed to work for a user who simply tries to get on one.