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KCMO Leaders Get Right with Bird Agreement

Business is evolving so fast that government regulators are struggling to keep up. But here in Kansas City, we’re starting to lead.

I’ve had plenty to say about how Kansas City is losing negotiations with sharing-economy businesses (first came ride-sharing, then home-sharing). I still feel like we’ve left a lot on the table, but I’m not writing this post to focus on the past. I’d rather focus on the future.

Yesterday, KCMO signed an Interim Operating Agreement with the electric scooter company Bird. (To be clear, I’m not one to think they are going to change the world. But they do serve a practical function in an urban setting. Plus, they’re just fun to ride.)

What’s important, however, is the approach the city took in this negotiation. Rather than spending years arguing about how to regulate scooters, the city took a different approach. It entered into a six-month agreement which (a) permits Bird to operate, (b) requires Bird to pay fees, and (c) creates a data-sharing framework between Bird and the city. As I understand it, the goal is to gather relevant data and then to work with Bird, the community, and our city’s leadership, to find the right regulatory framework under which to regulate electric scooters.

This is a monumental shift in approach and we must applaud our city’s leaders for doing this!

It makes Kansas City a leader, not a follower.

More important, if this data-driven approach is expanded into other areas beyond just electric scooter companies, it can help us improve Kansas City’s perception in the region and maybe the nation.

That improved perception, when combined with a data-driven, forward-looking, regulatory approach, can help us attract high-quality employers. It can help us retain the high-quality employers we already have. It can lead to more young people moving here, which can increase our tax collections. In the end, it can improve our local economy.

I don’t know about you, but I welcome this change in approach and I applaud the city for taking the courage to do something different.

Business is moving fast. Let’s help the city keep up!

(Image: Rick Usher)

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