Tight UK Scooter Regs Lead To Bird Chief’s Exit

Bird Rides, Inc., the eScooter startup, lost its U.K. and Ireland boss Richard Corbett, who stepped down from the job after two years at the helm of the company, according to Bloomberg.

Corbett stepped down from the job because it was “impossible” to overcome regulations on Bird Rides while Brexit was in process. Laws in Britain effectively ban eScooters from being on the roads, and Corbett had finally had enough.

The micromobility company launched in London in 2018, and has struggled since then to get its business off the ground. Corbett blamed the “political climate,” saying his hands were effectively tied — as long as the lawmakers were focused on Brexit, there was nothing he could do to make things move any faster to get business going.

The company is valued at $2.5 billion, and is one of the world’s largest micromobility startups. However, in Britain, eScooters are considered motor vehicles, or “powered transports.” As such, they are subject to tax, driver’s licenses and insurance. They’re not allowed to be on footpaths, which are solely for pedestrians. For this reason, Bird Rides hasn’t been unique in having trouble getting business off the ground in Britain.

Bird Rides has operated in a small London office since 2018, where it has focused on extremely narrow specifics: just one pre-set route, about 1.2 miles, between the Stratford rail station in East London and the co-working campus Here East, a technology hub where Bird’s office is based. The eScooters receive active use within that area.

Corbett said it had taken him years at his previous job — at taxi company, Eyetease — to enact any regulation changes in Britain. He swore he wouldn’t do it again, but found himself sucked in anyway, he said. From here, he wants to focus on “something entrepreneurial,” he told reporters.

Despite being banned in Britain, the use of eScooters is surging elsewhere in Europe — with Uber and other companies in talks to address safety issues, while still remaining productive.


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