The Bird scooters swoop into Los Angeles streets, pestering pedestrians and clogging traffic.
By Jessica Ava Lange, Online Editor
As if Los Angeles traffic is not hectic enough, now Bird scooters have flooded the streets and littered our sidewalks.
“People who ride them don’t follow any traffic laws, because it’s not clear whether you’re a pedestrian or a vehicle, which makes it difficult for people who drive,” said rider Nathan Long to the Los Angeles Times.
Bird scooters- based in Santa Monica and created by former Lyft and Uber executive Travis VanderZanden- are adult-sized, stand-up scooters with a motor that travels up to 15 mph. The concept is similar to Uber or Lyft because it gets users from point A to point B at an affordable cost. The only difference is that users do the driving. Drivers can download the app and pay $1 plus 15 cents a minute to ride.
The company has raised $300 million and remains valued at $2 billion, which is the fastest startup ever to reach a $1 billion valuation.
Of course, riding a Bird is fun for some, but it is not worth disregarding the safety of others. Birds should obey the same laws as bicycle riders, yet many drive recklessly. In fact, the law only requires drivers under 18 to wear a helmet and many people ride double, which is forbidden.
Driving on the sidewalk is illegal, but there are so many Birds in the LA, San Diego and Bay Area that it is virtually impossible to monitor all of them.
Our sidewalks are under attack by a cluttering of Birds. Once a user has fulfilled their use, they may leave it where ever they like to stop their ride.
“I was walking in Santa Monica and nearly tripped on a scooter laying on the sidewalk,” said Monica Rodriquez, first-year Valley College student. “And there are only a few people you see riding with helmets.”
Some LA residents have expressed their outrage of the Birds by lighting them on fire, burying them alive and crashing them into each other.
“They throw them everywhere: in the ocean, in the sand, in the trash can,” said Robert Johnson Bey, a Venice Beach maintenance worker who regularly comes across scooter parts on the Venice Beach boardwalk.
The city sued Bird for operating without a license and Bird agreed to pay $300,000 in fines. Bird was required to release a weeklong public safety campaign on public buses, yet the safety rules continue to be ignored.
The concept of Birds is liberating but it opens the door for individuals to abuse a potentially environmental game changer. LA officials reported their first conviction for scooting under the influence.
The driver, Nicholas Kauffroath, pled no contest to one count of operating a motorized scooter while under the influence and one count of hit-and-run after he hit a 64-year-old pedestrian victim.
Even though cars were frowned upon when they first arrive, Birds are different because they put people in danger and are too difficult to police.
The Bird business model will only function successfully if people will abide by the rules.