E-Scooter Firms Bird/Razor Caw at City Agreement

As reported by Francesca Washington at KRQE, e-scooter share businesses Bird and Razor have sent a letter to the Keller Administration decrying (cawing if you prefer) the

“…onerous liability, fee and operations regulations promulgated by the city, and regret to inform the city that we will not be moving forward with business in Albuquerque.”

For now, no e-scooter share business has agreed to the newly formed city’s regulations. In strikingly similar language, Razor sent notice last month to City of Tempe, Arizona that it might pull its scooters there, including mention that:

“The daily $1.06 per (scooter) fee is, without exaggeration, orders of magnitude higher than any other market in which we currently operate or are planning to operate,” said Razor CEO Danny Simon in the letter.

The past few weeks have proven CEO Simon’s to have written prematurely when it comes to “planning to operate.”

As language is so important in such things, let’s take each of the three aspects of onerosity (okay, I made that word up) noted by Bird/Razor in its letter to City of Albuquerque, and look at the language in the City’s new Shared Active Transportation Program Permit and Agreement available online.

Onerosity #1: 

Liability Overreach: Albuquerque’s insistence that we indemnify the city for its own negligence reaches far beyond the industry standard and poses an unnecessarily high risk for our operations. As leading operators in this industry, we provide protection to all the cities in which we operate. The standard promulgated by Albuquerque reaches beyond industry standard and creates untenable challenges for our industry.

Here’s an excerpt from the CABQ Agreement:

cabq scooter indemnification

And so on, henceforth, forthwith and yadda-yadda. Notably, Lime has already pulled its scooters from Tempe for precisely such language.

Onerosity #2:

Unnecessarily High Fees Reaching Beyond Cost Recovery: Albuquerque’s high vehicle fees, coupled with the creation of an arbitrary station fee that is unlike any other community in the nation, amount to an excessive and disproportionate tax on
micro-mobility devices that is higher than most other jurisdictions in the country and not levied either on personally owned cars or rideshare vehicles.

Here’s a look at the fee schedule offered from CABQ:

cabq scooter fee schedule

Notably, CABQ looks to be charging $1.00 per day while Tempe is hyperbolically billing “orders of magnitude” more at $1.06.

Onerosity #3:

Overly Burdensome Operational Requirements: The success experienced by the
dockless, shared e-scooter model can largely be attributed to the freedom and flexibility riders enjoy in creating their own, customized transportation solution that best suits their needs. Our model requires operators be able to make adjustments to fleet size, staging locations, parking and more, all based on the natural fluctuations of ridership in this new market. Albuquerque seeks to drastically limit and control where riders can park, where trips start and end, fleet size and location, as well as operator’s ability to promote or discuss the program on existing social media channels.

Or put less formally: Scooters are freedom and you, City of Albuquerque, are against freedom.

While questions and demands regarding where and how fast e-scooters can go don’t seem terribly limited by the CABQ Agreement, namely yes on sidewalks given “a travel space to a width of at least four (4) feet must be maintained” and 15 mph speed limit everywhere (unlike other cities which have banned or instituted 10 mph limits on sidewalks), Bird/Razor’s note that CABQ purportedly “seeks to drastically limit…operator’s ability to promote or discuss the program on existing social media channels” is frankly bizarre. Here’s the only mention of communication at all in the CABQ Agreement:

cabq scooter education

Here Bird/Razor seem to be grasping at Freedom Straws (unlike French Straws), or perhaps they are admitting that educating “users on safe and proper Small Vehicle operation and parking” is to acknowledge that there’s a decent chance riders will fall on their ass and it won’t be anybody fault, they hope, except the owner of the buttocks in question.

Setting aside the pros/cons of e-scooters, the advent of such “Small Vehicle Operation” continues to be a fun little socio-political experiment on many levels, including the current legal dodge, dip, duck, dive, and dodge between scooter companies and cities around the nation. One almost wishes some of the proceedings could be on ESPN The Ocho.






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