A New Electric Vehicle Sharing Startup has Quietly Launched in Santa Monica
Disclosure: This is not a paid advertisement or sponsored endorsement. I just noticed there was an opportunity to be the first to break the news about this new app and also answer questions people might be having about the black electric scooters around town.
It's not about promoting the company "Bird" specifically, but their ideas and concept. I sold my car and have been relying on foot, bike-share, and ride-share to get around, so the concept of an e-vehicle sharing app is a very welcomed amenity to the city in my opinion.
So what are those mysterious black electric scooters popping up around Santa Monica?
Yesterday, I started noticing black electric scooters being ridden all around Santa Monica. There was a couple instances in particular that stood out to me.
The first instance was when I was taking a break from work and walking around the 3rd Street Promenade during lunch. A couple of people were riding those black electric scooters down the sidewalk. They zipped right past me.
Fast forward 3 hours later, I'm wrapping up my work for the day. I'm getting ready to leave the office. I grab my stuff, walk down the stairs, and exit the doors to the street. And there I see it. Another black electric scooter.
But this scooter was alone. No one was standing by it. No one seems to have been watching it. I thought maybe someone is just grabbing a to-go from the restaurant next door and they'll be back out in a second but nope, no one came for it.
Then I wondered if it could be a vehicle-sharing app type-of-deal but determined it couldn't because there's no "station" where it was parked. With the bike-share program that I use, you lock and unlock your bike from specific locations with specialized bike racks.
This scooter was just left there by itself at the edge of the sidewalk. Someone seemed to have just rolled up, parked the scooter right there on the sidewalk, kicked out the kickstand, and walked away. No locks, nothing.
I couldn't figure out why. Why did someone just leave their scooter there and walk away? I must have stared at it for a good 10 seconds. I wanted to take it for a joy ride. I wondered if it's one of those trick TV shows that try to provoke you take things, unwitting that they're recording every moment of it. I felt like I was being watched from a window, and they were waiting for me to take the scooter.
But nope, I didn't take it. I broke my stare, looked away, and pretended the scooter didn't exist. That's when my girlfriend pulled up. I hopped in her car and we drove off. I mentioned the scooter to her and we talked about it for a brief moment, but we quickly forgot about it.
The thought of that scooter did linger in the back of my mind though. I was left so curious. I wanted to know why someone abandoned their scooter right there on the sidewalk like that. Did they have an emergency and didn't have time to grab it before they left?
I was left wondering about these questions until today
As I was headed home again after work today, I saw them again. Black electric scooters, 3 of them this time. Parked nicely along the sidewalk. I decided to walk up and take a look at them. And sure enough, my day was made. I found out that it is indeed part of a scooter sharing app, a new product from an electric vehicle sharing startup called Bird.
What is Bird?
It's an app! It's title on the app store is "Bird - Enjoy The Ride" and it's by Bird Rides, Inc.
3. Find a scooter
4. Add money
To get going, click the "Unlock" button on your phone and wait for the audible beep from the scooter. The beep means you're good to go.
Then pull the kickstand back in and pedal/push the scooter manually with your leg once to get it rolling and hit the accelerator which is the button located near your right thumb.
6. Be Safe!
Best practice is to wear a helmet and stay in bike lanes. Sidewalks are dangerous because cars dart out of alleyways.
Once you reach your destintion, click the "Lock" button in the app, wait for the beep from the scooter, and then leave the scooter on the sidewalk, out of the way of pedestrians and driveways.
Pretty easy...and fun! :)
The best part about it is how you can basically leave it anywhere. Once you're finished, you park it anywhere you want, as long as it's on a public street and not in the way of anything. This is the part that I find the coolest. There are no stations that you have to pick them up and drop them off at!
I've emailed Bird to get some more information and I'll keep you all updated as I learn more. Don't forget to subscribe for the latest updates.
Update #1: I took a ride on one of the scooters! I took it from my work to my home. I loved it. It's super fast and fun. It takes a few mins to get use to. And it's a little jerky when you let on and off the accelerator, it's not completely smooth. You'll have to ride it to see what I mean. I'm also probably not going to use it as much as I'd like to, because the few dollars everyday will add up fast. My Breeze bike share is $25/month or $7 for students, and I get exercise. The Bird app is extremely user friendly and similar to the Uber app. Overall a pleasant experience. I feel lucky to have these in Santa Monica.
Update #2: I'm in contact with a representative at Bird and have submitted some questions to their PR team. Will update this post with the results.
Below are some pictures I've taken around town of the scooters:
About the Author
During the day, Meelad is a Customer Success Manager at a healthcare tech startup. By night, Meelad transforms into the Editor-in-chief of an adventure travel blog. He operates from his secret headquarters in Santa Monica, California.