Much like the avian infestation in the classic Hitchcock film, the Bird scooters have landed. It would seem Baton Rouge is the latest market to be tested by the Santa Monica, CA company, which provides customers with “last mile” transportation via their fleet of rentable electric scooters.
Bird’s scooters appeared Thursday on Baton Rouge streets with no formal announcement from the company. This surprise approach has previously allowed Bird to establish a customer base in new markets, while local legislatures are left scrambling to draft relevant regulations. The company’s scooters can now be found in over 100 cities worldwide.
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Resembling a razor scooter and capable of speeds approaching 25 mph, Bird electric scooters are rented by users through a smartphone app. With a cost of $1 to start and a per-minute fee of 15-20 cents, the scooters are marketed as an affordable option for “last-mile” travel – the part of an urban commute that is not serviced by public transit.
When users are finished with their ride, the scooter can be left anywhere on public walkways, where they await the next rider. Teams of workers gather the scooters in the evening to be recharged and redistributed as needed.
In other cities where Bird has set up shop, concerns have been raised over the devices cluttering public spaces, creating a tripping hazard for pedestrians. Riders must also assume responsibility for the risk of bodily harm through the app’s terms of service (Bird offers helmets to users for the cost of shipping).
While it is currently unclear if the scooters’ appearance marks a full-scale launch of the service in Baton Rouge, if past expansions by the company are any indication, it seems it’s only a matter of time.