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Is Nashville's Bird (scooter) problem hurting its tech-friendly reputation?


EDITOR'S UPDATE: On Tuesday evening (8/7/18) Metro Council approved on second reading an ordinance setting conditions for a pilot project in Music City for personal transportation ventures like Bird. You can read the full ordinance here. The legislaiton will face its third and final reading in late August.  

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (GARNER/OSBORNE)  --  Legislation governing use-and-drop scooter companies is up for consideration this week in Metro Council and Nashville Business Journal says the tech sector here in the mid-state and beyond will be watching closely.

The Journal’s Meg Garner has reported extensively on Bird scooter’s troubled relationship with Nashville. Earlier this year, Metro began confiscating Bird’s electric scooters after the company dropped them on city streets without permits.

Garner notes that Nashville generally has a good reputation for working with tech companies wanting to innovate, but she says Bird landed in Metro at a time when city officials were dealing with the fallout from other tech-heavy ventures.

“They kind of drew a different line because of frustrations with how Airbnb and short term rentals kind of impacted our city, and then, also, because Bird was essentially asking for forgiveness rather than permission.”

Garner says how Nashville handles the impasse with Bird could impact its reputation as a tech-friendly city. She says tech insiders nationwide will be watching this week’s vote in Metro Council.

“There are people who saw what the city did and have questions and are saying ‘Well, why did you do that?’ And according to some of our sources there was never really a good answer.”

Garner says early indications are the council will approve regulations and a permitting process for personal transportation companies like Bird.

She says that will likely open the door for Lime and other dockless scooter companies wanting to enter the Music City market.

Would you like to read reporter Meg Garner’s full Nashville Business Journal article? Use the link below to listen to the full WMOT interview.