E electric scooters have taken over Santa Monica, a wealthy beach town on the outskirts of Los Angeles, but as it quickly spread across other cities in California and the US, a backlash is already coming on.
Download an app, scan the scooter barcode and drive off, up to 15 km / h to the destination. They leave the scooter on the sidewalk for the next driver.
Bird, a startup led by former Uber executives, launched the scooters in Santa Monica last September. Hundreds were dumped in the city overnight, and the devices that were so ubiquitous literally stumbled upon them.
They are thrilled, irritated and upset ̵
In San Francisco, where some scooters have been dumped in trashcans and lakes, a total backlash is in progress. The city attorney has threatened to confiscate scooters that they are dangerous, unlawful and examples of tech arrogance. The town hall explores ways to regulate the devices.
Targeting a global market, scooter startups are pushing back
Bird is coming up with $ 115 million (£ 80.3 million) in investment funds and seems to be over-esque, hard-charging attitude towards regulation It is better to seek forgiveness than permission. An involvement with officials of Santa Monica was prosecuted and sentenced to a high penalty.
"Demand is huge, we want to reach more than 50 markets this year and eventually have birds all over the world," says Stephen Schnell, vice president of operations of the company, noting that Britain is on the company's radar stands. "We try to select cities that have a bicycle lane infrastructure."
Fast, like Bird's CEO Travis VanderZanden, previously worked at Lyft and Uber.
Ride-sharing companies are shaking city traffic, but many commuters still have the "last" "problem: a stretch too far to run and too short to drive," says Schnell. "This is a way to get people out of their vehicles."
Marlon Boarnet, Professor of Urban Design and Space Analysis at the University of Southern California, says that scoopless scooters can enable short trips while polluting the environment and consuming little
"Traditionally, we regard this as running or cycling, but that Concept could and should be extended to light and small vehicles such as electric scooters, but we could also include small neighbor electric vehicles or electric motor assisted bicycles in this set.We should broaden our concept of what an acceptable "short trip vehicle" is. "
Boarnet hopes that businesses and city authorities can solve problems like where the scooters are. When rolled up in the middle of a pavement, scooters can seem more bothersome than Transport Revolution.
The boom and bust of dockless bicycles in various markets – using the example of a bicycle cemetery in China – are a warning.
The guard slipped through Santa Monica for a week to try them out. The longest trip took us from downtown to the main office of Bird in Venice, three miles away. It took 17 minutes and cost $ 3.55 – a base fee of $ 1 plus 15 cents per minute.
The experience was positive. With the app maps left by trees, parking meters, benches and doors, scooters were easy to find.
Once you have scanned and unlocked the barcode on your phone, there is a childish joy in kicking your foot (19659004) Not locked in a metal and glass case, you feel connected to the environment – both hands are needed, to control, so that it is difficult to write or play with the phone.
The most striking impression on Main Street was the reaction of pedestrians, cyclists, skateboarders and motorists: in most cases there were none. In September, the scooters were a novelty and attracted attention. Now they are part of the street scene and barely noticed – except by a few tourists who marvel and take pictures.
Bird reports rapid adoption; There are more than 50,000 regular drivers in and around Santa Monica, and San Francisco drivers have scored more than 60,000 miles in just 17 days. "It's amazing," says Schnell.
What's amazing, say critics, is the irresponsibility of the scooter companies and many of their drivers.
Few wear helmets in Santa Monica. It is customary to observe children with scooters, two people on a scooter, parked scooters clogging the sidewalks, and scooters scattering pedestrians on sidewalks. San Francisco residents have joined Santa Monicans to vent on social media.
Drivers should be licensed drivers, helmeted and driven on roads, preferably on cycle paths. Users need a driver's license to download the app and Bird sends free helmets upon request. Nevertheless, there is an inappropriate use. According to a city spokesman, Santa Monica has so far recorded 11 accidents, some serious, 328 allegations and 694 traffic stoppages.
Irished that Bird started with little or no warning, the city administration filed a lawsuit for missing business licenses a seller allowed. Both sides settled in February, with Bird promising to apply for licenses and pay more than $ 300,000 in fines.
"Although they had a bumpy start, we did not kick them out because we're based on our values" I'm really committed to this new model of mobility, "says Anuj Gupta, deputy city director of Santa Monica.
It has There are no noticeable effects on the traffic jams of cars, but scooters are now part of the transportation mix, he says. "We understand and share the excitement about these devices honestly."
But there is another concern. "If Bird and rival startups Doing scooters in every block does not give people even less incentive to go out and do sports?
"You mean WALL-E-world," says Schnell, referring to the Pixar movie in which future humans are obese eaters sitting in padded, floating armchairs. "Hopefully not. At least you have to stand with the scooters.
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