Everywhere I look on the west side of Los Angeles, I see Bird Scooters.
These are electric scooters you can rent from your mobile phone.
They look like this:
I finally got around to taking a ride on a Bird today.
After you download the app on your phone, you snap a picture of your credit card and your drivers license and sign a waiver, all on your phone, and you are good to go.
Then the app shows you where there are available Birds near you. That looks like this.
When you click the Ride button, the app asks you to scan the Bird’s QR code, which looks like this:
And then off you go.
My friend David snapped these photos of me arriving for our meeting.
It was a lot of fun.
I plan to ride them a bunch more while we are in LA this month.
Cool.I walked by them many times till i finally tried them.They made me smile also.I like LA.
People don’t realize that parts of LA are really urban. The expensive coastal parts, but still. Santa Monica, Venice are really enjoyable, walkable places.
I’ve lived LA for 4 years. I would describe it more as a few dozen walkable urban sub cities than a single city. All close Maibu or San Diego and beaches and Palm Springs desserts. It will likely never be the city it was 1920-1940s (based the architecture and culture that remains from 100 years ago) when it was the true city of angles. But, it’s an awesome place.Wild card is the 60k homeless.Dedication combines with rats and flees, a plague is not out of the question.
do note that new york is potentially the most bike friendly city of the larger us cities. more rural ones like fort collins have the space to build separate lanes off the road which are totally cool and fun to use.la is bad for bike commuting as of now with almost no bike lanes so commuting from let’s say beverly hills to westwood can be done but with no lanes and is dangerous esp in rush hour.even to ride from sm to malibu on a weekend you need to be on the pch proper with no lanes.la will get there as the city is really making great strides but right now for commuting and bike share in ny riding is proper and safe transportation.i ride wherever i go.
Feels like the future. You see so many similar electric skateboards in a thousand variations in SF these days… cities need to adapt to these low impact, high efficiency transportation options. I bet China goes first.
Looks fun… and somewhat dangerous. Do you drive in the street or on the sidewalk?
Lots of options are much easier on back streets including cars and parking!
You got my dichotomy — street or sidewalk — before I did!
Sure it looks like fun. But I don’t approve. Seems dangerous. Attached is the google street view for the area that you are talking about. Less maneuverability than a bicycle or a moped…. https://uploads.disquscdn.c…
that’s lincoln. i would never ride a bird on lincoln. the back streets are quite different.
That’s the kind of comment some people make before actually trying, and understanding, something (no offense, my friend).I can’t wait to try this because although I’m expecting alternatives to be superior, experience tells me I’ll have an a-ha moment once I use it… Or I might well wind up in sharp disapproval, based on personal preference (especially in LA where I’m used to owning a Harley 😉 )
‘Before trying and understanding’ is relevant to, say, power gliding. It looks more dangerous than it is. When you try it you realize it’s actually not super dangerous. But it looks that way from afar.With a scooter Fred did not qualify that he rode them on ‘back streets’. And his comment was “I see them everywhere”. So it’s hard to believe there are not people driving these where Fred does not. Hence it’s dangerous. Because people do take stupid chances with things like this. Maybe not death but serious injury that you don’t hear about.So sure if you ride them in a deserted neighborhood maybe that is low risk. But not sure how being exposed like that and driving where there is traffic and where cars could jut out wouldn’t be a risk. Also an older person getting hit is more risk than a younger person. Older people fall in apartments, break hips (ask any doctor) and end up in serious shit from something that wouldn’t faze a teen.
Using a scooter, nearly any powered thing on wheels, on the same path where people are walking is in line to safety objections from the walkers. On the same path as cars, a scooter is very dangerous to the person on the scooter. Of course, if there are a lot of bicycle paths, then maybe scooters would be welcome there.But generally, for any open vehicle, if it’s faster than walking, then it’s either not welcome where people are walking or more dangerous than walking or driving a car.It’s a clever use of mobile phones and maybe also GPS. But as a business, I’d be skeptical:First, I see no good barrier to entry.Second, I can guess that law suits will be coming out like June bugs in the summer. E.g., what if a scooter rider runs into a person, pet, property?Third, likely the regulatory situation will be another lawyer full employment situation.Fourth, it looks cute and clever now, but after some headlines about injuries the cuteness will wear off.Fifth, maybe kids could steal a scooter, hack it, and then just keep it.
As more and more cities implement Complete Streets, that scenario will change.
There are a bunch of electric scooter rental apps (the moped kind) in Europe (https://www.muving.com/, https://www.getyugo.com, etc) not sure why this is not catching up in the US. They would be perfect for places like Brooklyn.
They are everywhere. Been interesting to follow their interactions with regulators. Wondering the opinion on form factor (scooter v. bike) for intra-city travel?Personally, feels like bigger picture they’ll just be “mobility” companies where the mode of transportation provided by the service provider will depend on distance x preference. Who that service provider will be might be a more interesting question…
Helmet required by law. And they don’t store with the Bird. So no spontaneous rides, you have to buy and bring one. And then you’re stuck shlepping the helmet between rides.
Same for bicycles?
Hell no. Nor in NYC, nor here in Germany either. I can just jump on any bike share without prep. Or do scooter share, with stored helmet under the seat.Especially if you’re just going 1 way and later cabbing back (on an almost always chilly LA night), this a non-trivial practical consideration.
Who wants to use a helmet that other people use.Doesn’t look like a very big stick for violating though:http://www.bikersrights.com…Kind of funny given the totality of risk here given where you are riding these per my other comment.
The used helmet thing is no big deal if the company keeps things new and clean, and provides helmet liners, as any decent one (in SF and Berlin, for example) does.
Helmets are provided by bird free of charge to riders
But not via the vehicle, unless you know otherwise. A quick website read suggests one has to obtain them some other way, and keep them. So sounds like this point is moot… Ok fine other than changing my word “buy” to “get”.
Other companies provide disposable plastic beanies in the trunk. https://uploads.disquscdn.c…
new helmet innovations will come. Here’s one from Sweden — it hangs around your neck like a scarf but blows up like an airbag on impact — https://www.fastcodesign.co…
Yes, great point, (although I’m only talking about the situation today.)I demoed an around-the-neck airbag thing from Dainese around 2010… but was too chicken to actually go through a staged motorcycle crash 🙂
Been using one of these for a year. Very portable in a small briefcase for urban bike rental. I’m religious about not taking a bike without it (too ironic to die of a head injury on the one occasion you don’t wear it). A buddy had one deploy in an accident and it seemed to work. Of course one is always reminded of Jerry Seinfeld’s line (approximately): ‘The helmet: designed to protect a brain that is functioning so poorly that it is permitting its owner to participate in the activity that requires a helmet…’
Gotta get one of these: https://www.morpherhelmet.com/
We used to have station-based bikeshare in Seattle, with a helmet dispenser at each station because of our helmet law. That failed, and now we have dockless bikes and e-bikes (scooters coming soon). Helmet law still exists, but barely enforced. Definitely an issue for safety and liability (and I’m guilty of going helmet-free for quick crosstown jaunts)
Birdman takes flight.
Fred- you look happy in the sunshine. I’m glad you’re wearing a helmet. If it was me I’d be wearing a helmet and about three coatings of bubble wrap. Enjoy!
Would rather walk like an Egyptian but given the topic this is actually a relevant song (bird is the word):https://www.youtube.com/wat…
QR Codes to ride… seems like Snapchat could be the operating system for these types of services going forward. QR Codes continue to inch their way forward in America.
They use it for bicycle rental in China a lot. Interestingly one example a fraud was to stick your own QR code on an e-bike for people who want to rent a bicycle would occasionally pay to a wrong mobile wallet. But this I guess is more specific to China mobile payment system in general.
By the way: these are essentially electric “Go-peds”, the motorized scooters sounding like lawn mowers you might remember wizzing by in the 90s. They took off… and then growth curtailed once jurisdictions around the world regulated them as motor vehicles (need to register, wear helmets, etc), including California. Here’s an article from the UK in 2000: “End of the Road for Go-Peds”: https://www.theguardian.com…Mentioning this only from a business end. The Segway was once deemed the next huge thing by prominent Valley VC’s, but similarly hit huge headwinds due to unexpected regulatory resistance.
So, THATS what the heck happened to the Segway. Hmm ….
Well, that plus it was expensive.
The former owner of Segway dies driving one off a cliff http://www.dailymail.co.uk/…
That’s actually Xiaomi scooters. http://www.mi.com/us/mi-ele… Segway was bought by a Chinese company that creates even more self-balancing two wheelers and sells them pretty good around the world and in China with the help of Xiaomi distribution.
Such a shame riding a segway is just one of the best experiences, I love seeing the ear to ear grin on people’s faces after the first couple of minutes of getting to grips with them.
Looks like you’re really hating LA.
You’ve gotta try the Jump e-bikes in SF next time you’re in town (they’re also in DC). They’re dockless like the scooters, and the e-bike really flattens the hills of San Francisco.
I did . Last time I was in SF. Didn’t feel like something entirely new though. Felt like a citibike with some assistance
Saw those and Limebikes all over. You can see why Uber took flight in SF.
I love the bird scooters – everything cool starts in California:) And I am a New Yorker! But LA is home now.
Spectacularly great localized idea.
It’s hard to hide talent.
Look at those shades and kicks! -Pretty fly for an old guy Fred! 🙂
CONTRIBUTORS:We really thought bikes were enough is enough.Here we go again getting introduced to something we didn’t know we needed.Just no!Captain Obvious!#UnequivocallyUnapologeticallyIndependent
My daughter lives in Brentwood and loves them.
Looking good! Fresh and happy. Do you feel lighter in the west coast?Would be interesting to hear from you about the main differences of living, working and doing business in LA vs NYC.
Would you ride one in NYC? The big wheels and portability is made for NYC imo.
From situations from some years, I sense a big, largely unspoken theme, and these scooters are part of this theme:(1) Cars. Cars are evil! They are expensive, pollute the air, from brake linings, exhaust system rust, liquid leaks, and tire wear create “non-point source” pollution of waterways, are dangerous to people, pets, and property, waste natural resources, fill the junk yards, spew CO2 which, it is claimed, warm the planet, clog up the streets of large cities, require hugely expensive road and bridge construction which costs more money with more environmental impacts and still yields clogged streets, creates huge parking problems in city centers, etc.(2) Urban Planning for People. In NYC, etc., we should forbid cars, block off the roads and turn them into walkways, bicycle paths, and ways for low speed, two wheeled electrics, flower gardens, trees, open air markets of organic foods, sidewalk cafes, musicians, artists, mime performances, sculpture artists, everything 100% all-natural, all electric, “top of the line, totally non-polluting”, to foster income equality, gender neutrality, full diversity, with evening performance of holding hands and singing Kumbaya.I’ve found parts of this theme (1)-(2) long surprisingly common in people in or from NYC. Maybe similarly from SF.But, for anything like the present economy, the theme is wildly impractical, just won’t “carry the load”, move the goods, cut the mustard, get the basic work done — food, clothing, shelter, transportation, medical care, work, ….I fully agree that as human civilization has moved from tribes to villages to countries to cities, off farms and into cities, the city situations are quite different, suddenly, shockingly different, from what both social structures and biological genes got used to over the past 40,000 years. The big, huge, crucial, unavoidable piece of evidence is the birth rate; the garden we have constructed is sterile, not fertile; and the birth rate is so low we are quite literally and rapidly going extinct. More evidence is that family formation is failing — about 1/3rd of marriages end in divorce; about 40% of children are born to single mothers; what was it, 120 million babies aborted or some such; and birth control stopped a lot more reproduction. In strong contrast, we can look at movies now at YouTube from about 1936 on and see a lot about the Great Depression but next to nothing about destruction of families. Indeed, in the years after WWII, there was no problem with either family formation or reproduction, and we had a “baby boom”.So, what we’ve got, in the US on average and likely in NYC, SF, Chicago, etc. in particular, cannot last, will die out if only from going extinct. The situation is similar in Japan and Europe. In parts of rural Spain, the young people went to the cities; the rest of the people died of old age; and the villages, populated for centuries, are totally deserted.We do need some changes. Alas, the long building theme of (1)-(2) might see much of the problem but hasn’t seen much of a solution.
https://www.youtube.com/wat…Nobody’s walkin, walkin, walking, walkingYou won’t see a cop walkin on the beatNobody’s walkin, walkin, walking, walkingYou only see em drivin cover in the streetNobody’s walkin, walkin, walking, walkingYou won’t see a kid walking home from schoolNobody’s walkin, walkin, walking, walkingTheir mothers pick em up in a carpool
Also, worth mentioning the cafe you were at – Superba is great.I tried a Bird scooter for the first time this winter along that very stretch of Lincoln. I like the gorilla marketing of just leaving them around. I had people stop me twice to ask about it.Talking to a few service industry folks that work in the Venice area it sounds like they like Bird scooters for getting from the Expo line or bus to work in the morning.
These things are recently all over Pacific Beach in San Diego. They are VC funded and I wish them well, but I’m not sure the business model will work. For one, there are lots of people working on these things everyday and they retrieve them each day. Seems like a lot of man-hours for maintenance and support.I also believe someone is going to get hurt. From our office window we routinely see folks flying by on the sidewalks at a clip >15mph with less than 1% wearing helmets.
We have the same thing in DC from a company called Waybots. You don’t have to scan your drivers license or wear a helmet, though
One thing I noticed though is that the company was started by an ex Uber guy. This context makes it more obvious trend that on the company’s Instagram the service is promoted excessively by photos of girls and half naked girls on the scooter. I understand that may be this is just a coincidence and there are many girls on this particular scooter. Though Uber history of the founder makes it less believable. More like “sex sells” territory. May be the company should take this trend under control rather sooner than later. Wonder what type of company culture it has.
Wonder how long Bird will last — the scooters are actually built by Xiaomi (called Xiaomi M365) with an added box to enable/disable power. Nice way to bootstrap of course not sure it it’s future proof…
Fred, what do you think of $100M series B for bird at $300M valuation. They’ve become a nuisance in San Diego now. I’m just trying to figure out how they plan to rent these things 4-5 months out the year in fall/winter in more than half the country. Economics of being the “last mile” also implies they only make $1 + 0.15 a mile each ride. They’ve done 500,000 to date, only 100 million more to pay back investors. Math doesn’t come close to adding up with opex and staff.