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Once ubiquitous, e-scooters vanish from Atlanta amid coronavirus pandemic

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The public health crisis came as city leaders were weighing stricter regulations for the dockless two-wheelers

Woman riding shareable scooter down street.
E-scooters have largely disappeared from Atlanta streets in recent weeks.
Atlanta City Council

The Birds have flown off for the spring—an unusual move for the typical warm season in Atlanta, but perhaps a necessary one during a global pandemic.

E-scooters provided by companies Bird, Uber’s JUMP, and others have vanished from the streets of Atlanta—among other cities around the globe—as the fight against the novel coronavirus rages on. Cities such as Miami have banned the mobility option as the crisis continues.

Thousands of e-scooters dotted Atlanta streets, trails, and parks just weeks ago.

When Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms enacted an emergency order calling for people to stay at home unless carrying out essential activities, such as grocery shopping or working a job that’s crucial for society, the dockless vehicle industry didn’t make the cut as an essential business.

“We suspended JUMP services in Atlanta and have removed the scooter option from both the Uber and JUMP apps,” Uber spokeswoman Evangeline George tells Curbed Atlanta. “We are in close contact with public health authorities and local government, and will continue to monitor the situation closely.”

Bird representatives did not respond to Curbed Atlanta’s questions regarding what the coronavirus crisis could mean for business down the line. For now, the company’s intown service map is devoid of any scooter indicators.

The move to withdraw essentially the entire remaining e-scooter market from the city comes at a precarious time for the mobility companies; city officials had been weighing more regulatory legislation that could determine which ones are allowed to stay in the once-saturated market.

Officials have said that once the new restrictions take effect, only two or three dockless vehicle providers would be able to keep operating.

Over the past year, industry heavies like Lime and Lyft, as well as smaller operators such as Bolt and Gotcha, have left Atlanta. Some of them cited concerns with restrictive laws, such as the nighttime ban on e-scooter riding implemented to curb injuries and fatalities.

George, the Uber spokeswoman, said she expects Jump scooters to return once it’s safe to do so.