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Bird scooters

The Masked Tulip

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Backlash Brews as Bird Scooters Take Over L.A.


For the uninitiated, the scooters work like this: Riders have to be at least 18, wear a helmet (it's BYOH, which few do) and avoid riding on the sidewalk. To rent one, Bird and Lime users download an app and pay $1, plus 15 cents a minute for the duration of the ride. Once finished, the user can leave the scooter on the sidewalk; it can't be reactivated without the app. At night, Bird employs a contract workforce known as "Bird hunters" who collect and charge the scooters, mainly teens and young adults who are paid up to $20 a scooter.

The lack of docking stations and overall consideration has annoyed drivers, pedestrians and homeowners. It's not uncommon to see a tangle of scooters blocking a sidewalk or driveway. In February, Bird agreed to pay more than $300,000 in fines to the Santa Monica city attorney's office, which filed a misdemeanor complaint alleging that the company began operating without city approval. (A recent Santa Monica City Council meeting aired reports of elderly pedestrians being mowed down and people Birding while intoxicated. Bird and the city have since made up, with officials saying they're eager to work with the brand.)

Part of the divide seems to be generational. "I love that there's this new eco-way to get around — that's awesome," says 30-something GLOW actress Rebekka Johnson. Observes Bob Saget, 62, from a recent outing in Santa Monica: "Everyone I saw on them looked like tiny little leprechauns — you should really have to burn some calories doing it, come on," he says of the electric transport.

Reports abound of saboteurs cutting wires to render the scooters inoperable or throwing them off bridges. A recent photo posted on hyperlocal networking app Nextdoor Venice of a woman tossing a scooter into a construction site resulted in nearly 300 comments




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Never heard of this until now, but I think it's a great idea from a company POV. These people collect the scooters, charge them, then drop them off to the new location for $5 - $20 per scooter - although I suspect that price will drop. To be honest , I'm not sure how they are making money, as it only costs $1 + $0.15 per minute to hire them. The starting payout for collection is $5, so a customer would have to be using it for 27 minutes just to break even (and that's before any other costs to the company like upkeep, marketing, buying the scooters etc).

Pretty sure it wouldn't work in London because the black cab mafia would object to their cartel being eroded. On the plus side, at least there's no chance of being raped by an illegal, unlike when you get into an Uber.

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Similar to the Boris bikes idea IMO, just that I believe electric scooters in the UK are classed as vehicles i.e. need registration, etc. Perhaps that could change in the near future?

The Cardiff Boris bikes let you have the first 30 minutes free, and then 50p per half hour after that. You can park them up wherever if there isn't a 'pod' nearby, though the onus is on you if it goes missing then. In practice, that means you can pick them up quite easily. I've no idea how they make money either... Has been handy a few times when the motorbike has been off-road.

I'd rather have an electric scooter though!

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Surprised don't see more people commuting with electric scooters. Seem much more practical than those folding bikes. Takes seconds to assemble/collapse. Doesn't have a million parts to go wrong/fuck around with. Smaller to get on a bus/train. Not going to be covered in sweat and stinking when you get to work. I also have zero problem people on scooters riding on the pavement vs dickheads on bikes. See there's ones on aliexpress with 14 mile range. 

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They just launched 'Santander' bikes this week in Swansea. Fecking things are taking up lots of bike stands. I am pleasantly surprised to having seen a few people using them on the sea-front. No idea how much they cost.

Re the Bird Scooters I suspect that there is some kind of loss--leading cost in operation in LA at the moment in order to establish them with banker backers having dreams of the fortune being made rolling it out to cities around the world.

I suspect there is also money being made from your personal info and monitoring you as you scoot around on them before selling them info onto third parties.

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