Photo Credit: Savannah Cole
Hatching the Idea
Students returned to school for a new semester to discover a new mode of transportation: electric scooters that anyone can rent. Founded by a former Uber and Lyft executive, Bird's scooters are rented through the company’s app, and those who use them pay according to how far they ride.
I first learned of the scooters several weeks ago through a friend who wanted to test them. After class, we tracked the scooters on the app, which turned out to be surprisingly difficult. When we would walk to where the scooters were supposed to be available, none would be there. This has been the case almost every time I have tracked a scooter; it seems easier to just walk around and hope to see one.
After the third attempt, we finally found scooters, scanned our IDs on the app and hopped on. I noticed immediately that these are no new invention—I had a bright red electric scooter that looked almost identical 10 years ago.
The Bird scooters, however, are much easier to ride, even for someone as uncoordinated as myself. The instructions read to push three times, twist the handlebar and ride, following all street and traffic laws.
We rode to get brunch, parked the scooters and planned to ride them back home after. Due to their popularity, one was rented while we ate. Fortunately, there are so many available that, as soon as we were done eating, we walked to the next street over and found another, passing several more on the way home.
When we got home, I hopped off the scooter and ended my ride. My card was immediately charged for the price of the ride, which was $5.50 for about three miles. The scooters are surprisingly cheap—there is a base charge of $1 plus about 15 cents for every minute you ride.
No Harm, No Fowl
Since that first ride, I have been an avid Bird customer and supporter. The scooters provide an efficient, cost-effective mode of transportation for those who are looking to try something new. As the scooters are electric, they do not harm the environment, and the pay-as-you-ride system helps those who are short on money, time or both.
Of course, concerns have been voiced over the young company. Despite clear instructions on the app, many users ride without a helmet and with little regard to traffic laws. This seems to be more of an issue with the individual rather than the company, and as long as Athens users are responsible, the Birds are likely to stay.
For Athens, a mid-sized city with a young population, Bird seems like the perfect startup to grace the lives of commuters. Its scooters are affordable, eco-friendly and—when the map on the app is updated accordingly—incredibly convenient.
Rosemary Scott is a UGA student and an editorial intern at Flagpole.