West Lafayette and Purdue were clogged with Bird electric scooters in the fall 2018 semester. Since disappearing at Christmas, scooters are poised for a comeback in April, under West Lafayette's new permit system. (Photo: John Terhune/Journal & Courier)
West Lafayette and Purdue were clogged with Bird electric scooters in the fall 2018 semester. Since disappearing at Christmas, scooters are poised for a comeback in April, under West Lafayette's new permit system. (Photo: John Terhune/Journal & Courier)
WEST LAFAYETTE – The question on campus: When are electric scooters coming back to Purdue?

“I expected them back when the weather got nicer,” Luke Mercer, an Indianapolis freshman studying business management at Purdue, said this week. “I can’t imagine students wouldn’t want them back around.”

The hiatus on scooters in West Lafayette – started when Bird Rides Inc. picked some 1,700 of its rental two-wheelers off the streets the week of Christmas, citing winter conditions – will continue for at least another two weeks, city officials said this week.

West Lafayette’s new scooter ordinance, finalized March 4, kicks in April 12, demanding that companies pay $15,000 for an annual permit, plus $1 per scooter per day to operate in the city’s streets and park in newly designated parking areas.

This week, the city finalized its permit application paperwork. Erik Carlson, West Lafayette’s development director, said the city has been fielding calls from companies, while making it clear that no rental scooters would allowed until April 12.

“We’ll at least have one, I imagine,” Carlson said. “And that’s our aim – to have scooters available in West Lafayette. This wasn’t written to keep them out. This was written to keep them in and keep it orderly. … It’s just not going to be like what we saw last summer, where people just came in during the night and dropped them off.”

People, in this case, would be Bird, a Santa Monica, California, company, that brought as many as 3,000 scooters into West Lafayette and Lafayette in late August.

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