Bird electric scooters are a relatively new public transportation craze found all over Santa Monica and Venice. The concept is simple, a rental scooter that can be picked up or parked anywhere using their app. Since their release in mid 2017, they’ve been a huge success and provided a practical transportation solution for both locals and tourists. Scoot over Breeze bikes, there’s a new sheriff in town.
Bird has two different scooter models. The general consensus among regular riders is that the first generation is better than the second generation, it has more pickup, better brakes and a sturdier frame. There are however a couple welcomed features on the second generation scooters, notably the speedometer, limited downhill speed and improved cornering from the suspension.
The scooters both cost the same to ride, 1$ to activate and roughly 7$ per hour to use. They are one size fits all and can be temporarily locked so riders can step away from their scooter without losing it. The app is well made, simple to use and convenient. The biggest inconvenience for riders is that sometimes scooters can be hard to find.
From the moment they mysteriously showed up in the streets of Santa Monica, they’ve continued to gained popularity. It’s hard to go more then a few hundred feet without seeing a Bird. While they don’t own the scooter/bike-share market, it’s obvious that the popularity has left a huge impression on the west side. Still, there are many problems that need to be addressed in order for bird to continue their success. The city has had several issues with the company and the people riding them.
Parking the scooters has been a big issue from the start since the city doesn’t want them blocking streets or sidewalks. This problem is being fixed by a new feature forcing users to snap a picture of their scooter parked in a safe location. Not having designated parking areas is one of the iconic features, but making hubs would mitigate this problem and appease many locals. Unfortunately they would probably lose a lot of business by doing this and become significantly less convenient.
Another major issue stems from the users who are not legally allowed to ride motorized scooters. Rider need to 18 and have a drivers licence in order to ride them. At the beach it’s obvious that whatever preventative steps Bird has taken didn’t work because there are many children that still ride them. The city has also taken measures to prevent dangerous riding as police have begun pulling riders over for riding on side walks.
Bird has left a huge impact on the west side and caused other similar companies, like Lime, to move their own scooters in. Despite the issues that loom over the scooter use, it's clear they’re not going anywhere. They’re practical and hopefully getting some of the traffic off the road. So long as Bird continues to improve their app and comply with the city and users the scooters will remain a great alternative to driving on the west side.
Ride Quality: 1st Gen: 4/5 2nd Gen: 3/5
Comfort: 1st Gen: 4/5 2nd Gen: 4/5