Electric Scooters Sharing Startup "Bird" Lands In San Diego

January 28, 2018

If you've visited the Pacific/Mission Beach area of San Diego over the past few days, you have likely noticed black electric scooters located around the neighborhood branded with the word "BIRD". Bird is an eco-friendly, electric scooter sharing startup that launched in Los Angeles last year and is now testing the waters in America's Finest City.

Founded by former Uber employee Travis VanderZanden, Bird is a dockless electric scooter share program that was founded in the Santa Monica neighborhood of Los Angeles in September 2017. The company's business model is similar to carshare programs like Car2go, where vehicles are dispersed throughout an area and users can reserve and unlock the scooters using a smartphone application.

With Bird, each ride costs $1 plus 15 cents per minute. Bird riders must be over 18 years of age with a valid drivers license, observe all local laws applicable to operating a bicycle, and are required to wear their own helmet, which the company offers to send to customers free of charge. When the rider has completed their journey, they can leave the scooter at their destination and lock the vehicle with the app. Each scooter has a GPS and an electric lock that restricts wheel movement and triggers an alarm if it is moved without being unlocked. If the electronics are tampered with, the Bird loses power and the wheel locks engage rendering it useless.

"Safety is our top priority here at Bird and we’re committed to doing all we can to ensure that each and every ride is a safe one," said Bird CEO Travis VanderZanden. "That’s why we’re offering free helmets to all of our riders and making sure all of our riders know the rules of the road and how to ride a Bird safely."

Bird has already been the subject of controversy in its short tenure. After issuing numerous warnings and citations, the city of Santa Monica filed a criminal complaint against the parent company of the Bird scooters, charging Bird Rides Inc. and VanZander with violating several city ordinances. The city also issued safety tips after a woman riding a Bird electric scooter without a helmet was injured in a crash earlier this month. This resulted in Bird issuing its own safety instructions and offering free helmets to riders who have completed at least one ride.

Bird is currently testing the local market with around 150 units spread around the Pacific Beach and Mission Beach areas of San Diego. The company intends to expand to 700 units in the next few months, aiming to add Downtown San Diego and Ocean Beach to its local footprint. For more information, visit bird.co and see below for directions on how it works.