The sharing economy has become more popular in recent years, and intrepid entrepreneurs are thinking beyond the basic car service and room sharing. Alternative modes of transportation, like boats and even bikes, have become a part of the sharing economy. The Bird Scooter is an electric device that people can use to make their way around town. They’re convenient, but are they safe?
A Convenient Mode of Transport
The Bird Scooter system is convenient for many urban commuters. When a distance seems too far to commute on foot, simply pick up a Bird Scooter and leave it wherever you need. Bird Scooter, Inc.’s main selling point is convenience – as a customer, you have the flexibility of literally leaving the scooter at a business doorstep. However, this may be in contradiction to some local laws – and is even contributing to injury throughout the state.
California’s Fight With Bird Scooters
As a state known for its culture of entrepreneurship, California is home to many startups and is the first to experience many innovative concepts. Often, this works out in our favor, but it has a downside. When Bird Scooters, Inc. announced their plans for their electric scooter business, many urban commuters looked forward to the convenience and enjoyment of using them. Now that they’ve been around for a while, however, it’s apparent that this convenience has tradeoffs.
Bird Scooters Inc. states their users can leave the scooters anywhere, and passengers take the term literally. They litter city sidewalks, clog business doorways, and can be a nuisance to other commuters and business owners.
A rider can find and unlock a scooter by using the Bird Scooter app. The company charges a dollar to rent the scooter, then 15 cents per minute. They reach speeds of up to 15 miles per hour and can go 15 miles per charge.
Supporters of the company say that using scooters cuts down on congested traffic, is better for the environment, and is fun. Critics complain that the riders are reckless and inconsiderate of others. What’s more, many don’t wear helmets. While the company encourages safe behavior and states they will mail helmets to riders for free, users don’t always heed this advice.
Due to the negative ramifications of these scooters, some local governments are cracking down on the company. Newport Beach, for example, responded to numerous complaints over the summer of Bird Scooters all over local sidewalks. Since the company dropped over 50 around town without a permit or permissions, the city banned them from the city temporarily. Though they haven’t ruled out the possibility of letting them back in with rules, the company and the city have yet to come to an agreement regarding their use.
Los Angeles has also had to crack down on the use of the scooters throughout the city. City Council is in the process of creating new rules to regulate dockless scooters, and it will likely involve how many units the company can disperse throughout city sidewalks. Though they recognize the technology as a way to reduce the traffic in the area, they also note that striking the proper balance is essential for public safety.
Reports of abandoned scooters and riders hogging the pedestrian right of way has presented new challenges for cities and the company alike. Both have a vested interest in reducing the risk of injury from misuse, but they have a long way to go in terms of reaching agreements and hammering out rules. While convenient, the scooters must have additional regulation to protect both passengers and other pedestrians on the sidewalk.