If you were to poll a thousand people who work in London about the worst part of their day, I’d guess that 80% and above would point to their morning and nightly commute. The truth is that most of our journeys will include two or more modes of transport. It’s far from ideal. This is where Bird comes in, a California-based electric scooter start-up hoping to revolutionise the way we travel in the capital.
They propose that their electric scooters provide a viable solution to the ‘last mile problem’, when the last leg of your journey is too short for public transport but too far to walk. In addition, they claim their scooters will also reduce congestion and improve air quality – two huge issues of contention that need urgently addressing in London.
However, there is one major obstacle that will prevent their masterplan from taking effect: UK law. Due to the strict laws imposed by the UK driving authority, the DVLA, these scooters are prohibited from riding on UK roads and because they have a motor, they also aren’t permitted to ride on pavements either.
So, Bird are launching a trial period within the Olympic Park (private land) and hope this, combined with extensive lobbying, will result in UK lawmakers permitting their scooters roadworthy within the next 12 months.
Like Mobike or Ofo Bike Hire, Bird work in a similar way: download the app, find the nearest scooter, scan the code on the handlebars and ride off into the sunset. The scooters will be available from 07.00 – 21.00 before a city-wide ‘sweep’ is conducted to minimise the threats of vandalism and theft that have troubled similar schemes as the native population quenches its insatiable thirst for alcohol induced anti-social behaviour. Users can expect to pay £1 to unlock the scooters and a further 20p per minute depending on the length of their journey.
Bird have already successfully rolled out their scooter scheme in Paris, Tel Aviv, Mexico City and 40 American cities, with the company hopeful that a trial period can convince British lawmakers to get on side too. The company hopes to break the UK market in much the same way Uber did but without the controversy.
What do you make of this proposed scheme landing on these shores? Is it a time savvy game changer for the morning commute, or a Silicon Valley creation that isn’t compatible with the streets of the capital?
With tensions between cyclists and car users at an all-time high on the roads of London, how are streams of scooter riding commuters likely to be received? Not particularly well, I imagine.