BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — You may soon see electric scooter and bikes zipping around Birmingham after city council unanimously approved permits for two companies in the city.
Tuesday, November 10, the Birmingham City Council unanimously approved two permits for Gotcha Mobility LLC and VeoRide Inc. to operate in Birmingham. The two companies operate and deploy shared micromobilty services.
In February, the Council passed a micromobility ordinance that opened the door for companies to deploy their equipment, such as scooters and bikes, on Birmingham Streets.
The ordinance provides a clear permitting process for companies that wish to introduce shared micromobility device systems in the city. Tuesday’s vote was the first time the permitting process for micromobility companies had been completed since the passage of the ordinance earlier this year.
Birmingham led the way on micromobility by introducing North America’s first electric pedal-assist bicycles in the Zyp Bikeshare system in 2015. This public-private partnership has proven that there is demand for a shared-use system with over 218,000 rides and 252,000 miles traveled to date. However, Zyp’s contract expired on Dec. 31, 2019, meaning residents no longer have that as a transportation option.
Councilor Darrell O’Quinn, who serves on the Transportation Committee, said the two companies would have a larger reach than Zyp, which was primarily located around the downtown area.
“The service area is going to be extended and people in residential areas will also have access to these programs,” O’Quinn said. “With the approval of these permits we will see several more transportation options across our city, from Woodlawn to North Birmingham to the Western communities.”
Gotcha will be launching a fleet of 500 devices: 166 e-bikes, 167 stand-up scooters and 167 cruise scooters.
The companies will have designated corral spaces for the devices to be parked, avoiding an issue of cluttered sidewalks and rights-of-way that is often seen in other cities with similar programs.
The City’s Office of Innovation and Economic Opportunity engaged with Gotcha Mobility throughout the process and in addition to launching their equipment in Birmingham, they will be relocating their national distribution center to Birmingham.
The company has leased several thousand square feet of space in the M2 building near Avondale. So in addition to providing a service to Birmingham, the company will be bringing job opportunities as well. “When we discuss transportation in Birmingham, we have to talk about parity,” said Councilor Steven Hoyt, chair of the Transportation Committee. “Our role as city leaders is to advocate for all our residents, and anytime we can work with a company to bring in affordable, on-demand transportation options to our entire city, I would consider that a huge win.”
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