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Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Bird Scooters Show Up in Fort Thomas

Bird Scooters showed up in Fort Thomas earlier this week, this, after popping up in Cincinnati last summer seemingly overnight.

Bird, and companies like it like Lime, are a dockless scooter-share company based in Santa Monica, California. Founded in September 2017, Bird operates electric scooters in over 100 cities throughout North America, Europe, and Asia, with 10 million rides in its first year of operation.

Bird was founded in September 2017 by Travis VanderZanden, formerly an executive at Lyft and at Uber.

They travel at speeds of up to 15 miles per hour and cost about $10 per hour of riding.

To ride a Bird scooter, you'll first need to find one. The marketability of a city usually depends on density, which is why you're more likely to find them downtown than on Highland Avenue in Fort Thomas, like a few days ago.

Once you do locate one, you download the app onto your phone then enter your phone number and credit card for billing, just like with Uber or Lyft.

The app shows you where all the available scooters are located at that moment. You use the app to take a picture of the scooter's QR code, which unlocks the scooter and bills your credit card.

If you're riding it around and stop somewhere, you can temporarily lock it so no one else can take it, then jump on again when you're ready to leave. When you are done for the day, you simply close out on the app.

That begs the question, how do they get charged and how are they deployed to cities like Fort Thomas?

Bird scooters are charged by gig workers, private contractors, who sign up to be "chargers"; the company sends them charging equipment, and pays them between $3 and $20 to charge the scooters overnight, then place them at designated "nests" throughout the service area in the morning. Charging can become competitive, with chargers using vans to pick up scooters all over the city. Given the widely-distributed nature of the scooters, this kind of charging system is essential to making the economics of the system work.

The scooters are equipped with GPS devices, so that the company knows where they are at any given time.

In many cities, Bird has been fined for operating a business without a license, failure to follow various business zoning laws, or for allowing parked scooters to accumulate outside of designated area in such a way that would block sidewalks.

The City of Cincinnati introduced an ordinance last summer after city officials noticed that riders were not observing laws. You're supposed to ride them in the street, with a helmet and must be 18 to operate them.

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