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guide bird scooters

The Definitive Guide to Bird Scooters

Last updated: December 14, 2018
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Perhaps you have seen people cruising through your city on electric scooters. Maybe you’re familiar with Bird scooters or rideshare scooters in general. But are you familiar with Bird Chargers?

In this guide, we will give you all of the information you need to rent and ride Bird scooters as well as a rundown on working for Bird as a charger.

Keep reading to learn more.

 

 

What is Bird?

Bird is a scooter startup that provides e-scooters for rent in major cities and college campuses across the nation. There are a lot of electric scooter companies popping up, so Bird has some competition in the scooter wars, including Lime, Skip, Spin, Jump and even Lyft.

It works through the Bird app. Users log in to the app to find an available Bird nearby and then scan a code on the Bird to rent it. When the ride’s over, the app charges the users credit card.

The Bird app works a lot like Uber and Lyft apps – you’re just driving yourself on a scooter rather than being driven in a car.

This recent startup has received a lot of interest and funding. In fact, Bird made the list of Time Magazine’s 50 Genius Companies. The company was founded in 2017 and by 2018 had already raised over $2 billion in investments. And they launched it that quickly, too.

 

guide bird scooters

 

Bird’s popularity is gaining fast. They have been popping up in cities all of the United States and a few major cities in Europe too.

 

Here are a few of the more than 100 cities that are now nesting Birds:

  • Arizona: Scottsdale
  • California: Los Angeles, Oakland, San Diego, San Jose, Santa Monica
  • Colorado: Denver
  • Georgia: Atlanta
  • Indiana: Indianapolis
  • Kentucky: Louisville
  • Maryland: Baltimore
  • Michigan: Detroit
  • Minnesota: Minneapolis, St. Paul
  • Missouri: Columbia, Kansas City, St. Louis
  • North Carolina: Charlotte
  • Tennessee: Memphis, Nashville
  • Texas: Austin, Dallas
  • Washington D.C.
  • Austria: Vienna
  • Belgium: Brussels
  • France: Paris
  • Israel: Tel Aviv
  • Mexico: Mexico City
  • Switzerland: Zurich

 

guide bird scooters

 

If your city isn’t listed, check the Bird homepage. If it isn’t there, be patient. Bird is constantly trying to expand into new markets to beat the competition.

Also note that Bird is NOT allowed in some cities, including the San Francisco Bay area, due to local regulations.

 

Why Use Bird?

Not only is Bird a faster way to move through congested cities, it’s also both inexpensive and green (zero carbon emissions!).

With Bird, you only pay for what you use, and you never need cash. Payment doesn’t infringe on your time, either. When your ride is done, the app charges your already stored credit card instantly. You don’t have to waste precious commute time on it.

 

Related: Uber vs. Lyft: Which Is the Better Rideshare Service?

 

Bird also saves you time by letting you leave the scooter almost anywhere. As long as it’s not blocking vehicle or pedestrian traffic and is still accessible for other scooter riders, you can park it where your ride ends. You never have to worry about using a specific drop-off location.

The scooters are electric, so they aren’t emitting harmful pollutants into the air or sucking up fossil fuels. You are doing the environment a favor when you choose a Bird over traditional transportation.

 

guide bird scooters

 

Another reason is that Bird is customer friendly. Their customer service is fast and responsive. You can choose to chat in the app or call them at 1-866-205-2442. You can also reach them through email at [email protected]

Choosing Bird is also a great way to support growth in sustainability. The company is devoted to that mission and to helping the communities it nests in through other avenues as well. They even help low-income users with discounts and free rides. Keep up with them on Twitter to learn more about Bird culture and the causes the company supports.

 

Bird Terminology

Bird is creative with branding and has successfully created its own unique vocabulary.

 

It can be a bit confusing to Bird newbies, but once you get the theme, it makes sense.

Bird – a dockless electric scooter
Capture – the term for when a Charger locates a Bird and scans the QR code to claim it
Chargers – people who are paid to recharge Birds overnight
Chirp – the Bird makes a bell-like sound when a Hunter is near it so that it is easier to find
Flock – when a group of people (you and your crew, for instance) are riding individual Birds alongside each other
Hunting – the process of looking for Birds to capture and charge
Nest – a place in the cities where multiple Birds are parked for morning commuters
Release – putting the Birds back out on the street or in a nest after charging

 

How Does Bird Work?

All you have to do is download the app, create an account, and enter your payment information. Once the app is loaded, locate a Bird using the map in the app. Then approach the scooter and scan its QR code to rent it. When your ride is over, the rider uses the app to signify they are done. Sometimes, you’re required to take a picture of where you parked the scooter. After that, you’ll be charged via the app.

 

Here’s how to get started:

  • Download the app onto your phone via the App Store or Google Play
  • Create an account
  • Enter your email address
  • Enter payment information
  • Give the app permission to access your location (this helps them show you where the nearest Birds are)

 

Once you’ve created your account and accepted the rental agreement, you’re ready to go.

  • Open the app to find a scooter and tap the “ride” button
  • Give the app permission to use your phone’s camera functions (to scan the QR code – you only have to do this once)
  • Scan the QR code
  • Kick off (like on a skateboard) and then push the throttle button to start the scooter and take off!

If you want more information on how to rent and ride the scooter, Bird has a video that will teach you.

 

How Much Does It Cost?

Birds are much cheaper than traditional rideshare options or taxi cabs. It’s only $1 to unlock a Bird for rental and then $0.15 a minute after that. The average rider goes 10-15 mph. So, a 2-mile ride would cost around $4 bucks or less. Not bad.

 

Are There Any Rules?

Yes, there are rules, and Bird is serious about them. There isn’t much they can do to enforce them, but it’s very important to protect the privilege of all riders to ride.

Inconsiderate riders have caused electric scooters to be banned in some neighborhoods and even whole cities. Bird and Lime are working to undo the damage and their first line of both defense and promotion are responsible riders.

 

Follow these rules and guidelines with diligence:

  • You must be 18 years old or older to ride.
  • You must agree to be responsible for any damage you cause to the scooter.
  • You must agree to follow all local laws surrounding the scooter.
  • Ride in bike lanes (You can ride on sidewalks if local laws allow it, but this is uncommon)
  • Follow traffic laws including traffic lights and signs.
  • Don’t use the scooter for tricks.
  • Be courteous to pedestrians, much as you would on a bike.
  • Avoid potholes, mud puddles, standing water, moving water, and uneven terrain.
  • Wear a helmet (Bird will send you a free helmet if you don’t have one – all you do is pay for shipping).
  • Only one rider at a time – do not carry additional people on the scooter.
  • Don’t place excess weight on the handlebars.
  • The maximum rental period is 24 hours.
  • Park the Bird in plain sight but out of the way of pedestrians, business or home entrances, fire hydrants, etc.
  • Park the Bird upright.
  • Do not park the Bird indoors or behind gates or anywhere else that is inaccessible.
  • Do not hide the Bird for future use.

All of these rules are pretty straightforward. In general – use your head and be considerate of others.

 

What is a Bird Charger?

Chargers are the freelance gig workers that make Bird possible. At the end of the day, they collect Birds from city streets and campuses and take them home and charge them. In the morning, they release charged Birds into their Nests, ready for the morning commute.

It’s a great side hustle for anyone looking for extra income.

Any adult can become a Bird Charger as long as they have a car big enough to collect a few Birds. Chargers also need to live in a place that Bird operates. The Birds are easy to charge, but they do require special chargers. When you sign up, Bird will send you 3 chargers, but you can request more later on.

 

guide bird scooters

 

Your income depends on the number of scooters you charge, most people try to capture and charge way more than 3 Birds. This requires swapping out chargers in the middle of the night.

Most Birds net $5 per charge, but some charges are worth more – as much as $25 if they’re hard to find and collect.

 

guide bird scooters

 

Bird makes finding most scooters simple. Chargers have a special version of the app that shows them where the scooters are located. Instead of the usual Bird symbol, they’re indicated by the dollar amount they’re worth. If a charger doesn’t see the Bird when they get to that spot on the map, they can use the app to make it chirp so they can find it (just like riders).

Bird provides the initial charging equipment to its chargers. They usually send three free power supplies that are very similar to laptop chargers and plug into regular outlets. Chargers that consistently charge 3 scooters a night and have them in their nests before 7 a.m. can ask for more power supplies and Bird will send them.

 

guide bird scooters

 

Most chargers are not limited in how many Birds they can charge. Some charge 50 or more in a single night. That kind of output requires a well-designed strategy and a lot of energy, though. Chargers with that kind of productivity usually live near several nests. Other Chargers that make a lot of money are those willing to climb fences and cross ditches to capture Birds that net higher payouts.

At the end of a night of charging (usually really early in the morning), chargers return Birds to nearby nests. Once the Bird is safely released and scanned, the charger gets paid.

If you’re interested in joining the charger program, the sign-up process is simple.

 

FAQ

1. What scooter models does Bird use?

Bird uses Ninebot Segway ES2s or ES4s and the Xiaomi MI series M365. They are currently working on building a more rugged scooter that can stand up to extensive use. New scooters will also have features that allow cities to have more control over speed and parking. The system will cap the scooter’s speed at 15 mph in some areas and as little as 8 mph in pedestrian-heavy areas like beaches.

 

2. How much does Bird cost?

The cost per ride is $1.00 + $0.15 per minute. The one dollar charge is to unlock the Bird. Most Birds are used to complete a commute and the average rider travels less than 10 minutes. A ten-minute ride would cost around $2.50.

 

3. How do you pay for a Bird ride?

Your credit card information is securely stored in the Bird app. When your ride is over, you tap a button on the app to indicate that you’re done.

 

4. Is there a limit to how long a scooter can be rented?

Yes. You can only rent a Bird scooter for 24 hours. It would cost you $217, so don’t forget to tap the button when your ride is over!

Some riders, and even chargers, try to horde scooters for future use. Just remember that Bird knows who the last rider to use the scooter was and that this is against the terms of service.

 

5. Do the scooters need to be charged?

Riders do not have to worry about charging scooters. Scooters under a certain charge level will not show up on the map in the rider’s version of the app.

Low battery scooters will be collected by Bird Chargers and be recharged before being released back onto the street.

 


 

To say that electric scooter ridesharing is growing rapidly would be an understatement. From startup to $2 billion in investments and deployment in over 100 cities worldwide in under one year is a massive cultural shift.

Bird provides a safe, easy, affordable, and eco-friendly ride option that reduces the stress of the commute.

Expect to see Birds in many more locations.

 

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