Bird Scooter Launches in Santa Monica and Expands to Rest of Nation
This article is part of our HOME BASE Series, in which we share news & stories from Santa Monica and Los Angeles
Bird App Promo/Offer Code: Use promo code LWAEL or click here to download the app and get a free ride worth $5
You might've seen them parked around Santa Monica. Or people riding them around Venice and Marina del Ray. Some have even been spotted in Culver City. Now they're expanding to the rest of the nation: Austin, San Diego, San Francisco, San Jose, and Washington DC. And I imagine the rest of the world from there.
You might be wondering, "what are those Bird scooters?"
I wondered the same thing too. Back in Sept. 2017, I started noticing an abundance of black electric scooters around Santa Monica. Flash forward to today, I now realize that it was actually Bird in it's first few days of launching.
Some people wonder, "where did Bird Scooters start?" Well, they originally launched in Santa Monica, and I'll tell you the story of how it happened.
Take a step back in my shoes. Imagine it's September 2017 and out of nowhere a bunch of black electric scooters magically arrive overnight in your city. That's what happened where I live and work, in Santa Monica. I started noticing scooters around the city and couldn't figure out what they were.
Turns out it was Bird in it's infancy, a couple days into launching. The scooters didn't even have Bird logos on them.
On that first day that I saw them, I remember there were a couple "instances" in particular that stood out to me. The first instance was while I was walking around during my lunch break. I was walking to get some boba near the 3rd Street Promenade when a couple of people riding black electric scooters whizzed past me on the sidewalk. The moment was only a couple seconds long but stood out to me because the riders were laughing and riding the scooters like it was their first time on them, and because there were 2 people riding together on 1 scooter, which was funny to see.
Fast forward that same day, about 5 hours later, I wrapped up work for the day, grabbed my stuff, walked down the stairs and exited the doors to the street...and there I saw it. Another black electric scooter. This is the picture I took that day:
But I noticed that the scooter was was just kind of...left alone there.
While I stood there and waited for my gf to pick me up, I got more and more curious because no one was watching it. Remember, this was before they even had the Bird logos on them, and I didn't want to approach what appeared to be someone's private scooter/property.
I stared at it though and wondered if someone is just grabbing a to go from the restaurant next door, will they be back out in a second? Nope...no one came for it.
I even wondered if it's a new type of vehicle-sharing app or something but decided no way because it wasn't parked in a "station" with other scooters. I was used to seeing the neon green Breeze Bikes (Hulu Bikes) around the city. You lock and unlock the hulu bikes only from specialized bike racks installed in the sidewalk. And Santa Monica didn't have Lime Bikes back in Sept '17 but we do now (May '18) so I wasn't used to seeing dockless vehicles parked around the city. I later learned that dockless bike sharing has been a thing for quite a while now.
To me it just looked like someone scooted up, parked their scooter, and walked away.
No locks, nothing.
Buy your own Bird scooter
It's made by Xiaomi and it's available on Amazon. There's more options and alternatives available on Amazon too.
Back to the story. I couldn't figure out why someone just left their scooter there on the sidewalk. I must have stared at it for a while. I even daydreamed about joy riding it and wondered if it's one of those trick TV shows that provoke you take something while they record every moment of it.
But before I got a chance to get in for a closer inspection my gf pulled up, I hopped in, and we drove off. I mentioned the scooter to her and we discussed it for a brief moment but quickly forgot about it.
The thought of the scooter did linger in the back of my mind though. I was left very curious. I wanted to know why someone abandoned their scooter on the sidewalk. Did they have an emergency and didn't have time to grab it?
I was left curious until the next day
As I was headed home again after work the next day, I saw them again. 4 black electric scooters parked along the sidewalk.
I decided to walk up and inspect them further and sure enough, my day was made. I found out that the scooters are indeed part of a scooter sharing app called Bird. It was amazing to see that a new type of dockless, eco-friendly alternate transportation system was launching right before my eyes, in my very own neighborhood.
Boom - my mind was (and still is) - blown.
So What is Bird?
Bird is a lot of things, and people define it however they want. It's peer-to-peer, it's an electric vehicle, it's ride-sharing, it's an elegant solution to the bane of all our existence: traffic. It's like an electric Uber scooter. It's basically an easy way to get around town. It's title on the app store (as of 2018) is "Bird - Enjoy The Ride" by Bird Rides, Inc. The company is founded by Uber's ex-VP of Driver Growth, Travis VanderZanden.
When I published this article last year, their app was so new that it had been made available on the app store only 2 days earlier. And back then (09/17), there was no info about them online. They didn't have anything posted on their instagram, facebook, or twitter. And their website was pretty bare.
It's like they were trying to keep it a secret...hmm I wonder why. I originally decided to write this blog post because I figured I'm not the only one that wants to learn more about these sweet new scooters.
So how does the Bird Scooter App work? Simple!
2. Open the App
3. Find a Bird
4. Add Money
Use promo code NBMWD or this link for a free ride
Cost: As of Oct. 2017, Bird costs ($1.00 per ride) + ($0.15 per minute), so at least $1.15 per ride. It comes out to about $5 per 30 minutes.
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
Only one rider per Bird is permitted
You must wear a helmet while riding
You must be 18 or older, with a valid Drivers License
Ride in Bike Lanes; on the street close to the right curb - don’t ride on sidewalks
Before riding, do a safety check on the Bird; from the grips and brakes to the wheels
Follow all local traffic laws including stop signs
7. End your ride
Once you reach your destination, click the "Lock" and "End Ride" buttons in the app, wait for the beep from the scooter, and then leave the scooter on a sidewalk, out of the way of pedestrians and driveways.
Easy to use...and fun :)
The best part about it is how you can basically park 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. And the people who charge the Birds pick them up at night from wherever you dropped them off!
Bird Scooter Review: I took a ride on one of the scooters for about 15 blocks. I loved it. It's quick and fun. It takes a few mins to get use to depending on your experience. The acceleration is a little jerky when you let on and off the accelerator, it's not smooth. You'll have to ride it to see what I mean. In terms of cost, it's ($1) per ride + ($0.15/minute) as of 2017/2018. So about $5/30 minutes. The few dollars riding these around everyday can add up fast. Just like a starbucks drink. In comparison to the Breeze/Hulu bikes, the bikes are $25/month or $7 for students, and requires exercise. The Bird app is fast, extremely user friendly, and similar to the Uber app. Overall a pleasant experience. I feel lucky to have these in Santa Monica.
Here's some pictures I've taken around town of the Birds, this was when they first launched, before they had Bird logos on them:
Note: Please do not contact us with inquiries about Bird. You can contact Bird through their website.