A Bird scooter is ridden down the boardwalk in Pacific Beach. / Photo by Thomas Melville
Stephanie Michaels (left), visiting from Chicago, and Pacific Beach resident Kelley Hopkins download the Bird app so they can take a ride. / Photo by Thomas Melville
Bird scooters are the new thing to ride in Pacific Beach. / Photo by Thomas Melville
Heard of car or bike share? Now there’s scooter share in Pacific Beach.
Black-hued “Bird” Segway Kickscooter ES1 Electric Scooters, retailing for $399, are seemingly everywhere these days along the beachfront.
The 30- to 40-pound dockless electric scooters, capable of speeds up to 15 mph, are available through a scooter-share service via a smartphone app.
The scooter-share startup, Bird, was begun by Travis VanderZanden, who was previously an executive with Uber and Lyft ride sharing.
Launched in September 2017, tens of thousands of people have already ridden Bird. The company started in Los Angeles, and has since spread from Venice and south to San Diego. Bird plans to branch out to dozens of other markets this year.
In Pacific Beach and elsewhere along the San Diego coast, the new mode of transportation played to mostly mixed reviews.
But Sara Berns, executive director of Discover PB, the community’s business improvement district, views Birds differently.
“Bird scooters could be a unique opportunity to offer an alternative transportation model, and last-mile commutes that align with our eco-district principles, while mitigating some of Pacific Beach’s parking and traffic issues,” said Sara Berns, executive director of Discover PB, the community’s business improvement district.
“However, we want to ensure that the company and its ridership are adhering to public safety concerns, and that of our merchants.
“We have reached out to work with the company to help alleviate some of those issues to ensure they are not impeding on our existing business community, but rather enhancing it,” she said. “We look forward to them working with us and the community at- large.”
Dan Michaels, a Pacific Beach business owner, turned his thumbs down on the new alternative ride share service.
“These new electric scooters for rent all over PB is getting annoying,” said Michaels on the Next Door social media site. “They are leaving them everywhere and [they’re] allowed to operate without a business license. Riders are intoxicated renting them, under age, and don't obey any laws of the road. Then when finished, they are leaving them in front of doors, ramps, etc.”
Michaels pointed out PB has “fought hard to remove bike share stations (Deco renamed DiscoverBike) from the boardwalk. This company thinks they can just establish these in the same places. What can we do next to stop this before someone gets hurt.”
There are numerous rules in the California Vehicle Codes applying to the safe and proper use of electric scooters like Bird. Police warn they will issue citations for a range of violations, costing between $197 and $367, for non-lawful operation of such scooters.
Citable scooter offenses include: driving while intoxicated, not having headlights and reflectors at night, not riding on the right-hand edge of roadways, exiting bike lanes without signaling, not having brakes, riders not wearing mandatory bicycle helmets, and not allowing passengers, among other restrictions.
When finished, Bird users lock them in place at their end destination. Scooters employ GPS and an electric lock restricting wheel movement. If tampered with, an alarm is triggered on the vehicle locking its wheels in place and making them unridable.
For more information about vehicle codes applying to Bird scooters visit, http://codes.findlaw.com/ca/vehicle-code/veh-sect-21221.html.