Disclosure: Ridester.com is supported by our users. We may recieve compensation from the companies whose products we write about, test, or review. We are independently owned and the opinions expressed here are our own. Please refer to our Affiliate Disclosure for more information.
Bird scooters seem to be taking over major cities across the United States.
People are using the scooters all over the country as an alternative to Uber and Lyft. They are affordable ($1 to start, then 15 cents a minute), environmentally friendly, fun to ride, and save you the hassle of searching for a parking spot.
Scooter sharing is a great commuting option for those looking to travel 1-2 miles, as long as you can find one in your area. To make their scooters more viable, Bird has dropped off thousands of scooters across the country.
In many cities, Bird quietly dropped off electric scooters overnight, surprising both community members and city officials.
This guerilla tactic has helped generate a lot of buzz around Bird Scooters, but not all the buzz has been positive.
Cities are struggling with what to do with all these new scooters as many are left in the middle of the street, thrown into ponds, or left in other inconvenient locations. Some local governments have resorted to banning the dockless electric scooters altogether.
Every day there seems to be a new story about Bird Scooters being introduced to a new city and banned from another.
We did some research to better understand where Bird scooters are actually legal. We compiled these findings below to help you to understand where Bird scooters are allowed and where they’re banned.
- Cities That Allow Bird Scooters
- Banned Bird Scooters
- What Are Bird Scooters Banned?
- The Future of Bird
In What Cities Are Bird Scooter’s Available?
The Bird app will access your location and show you if there are any nearby scooters.
If Bird Scooters are available, their locations will appear on a map. It will look like Uber or Lyft. But instead of nearby cars, you will see scooter icons.
If Bird Scooters are not available in your city, a popup message will appear stating that Bird is not yet available in your location.
If you are a city official and would like to get the scooters in your city, you can reach out to the Bird team via email: email@example.com.
Bird regularly updates their website with a list of cities where Bird scooters are legal. In most cases, the scooters are in a condensed downtown area. If you look at the maps on the mobile app, there will be areas in red where the scooters are prohibited.
Last we checked, the following cities allow the dockless scooters in some capacity according to Bird:
Besides these U.S. cities, Bird Scooters partners with select university campuses. This is an excellent solution for college students looking for a faster way to navigate around large campuses.
These college campuses currently allow Bird Scooters:
Bird is eager to spread across the country as quickly as possible. They are currently available in 20 states and show no signs of slowing down.
They have started to look overseas for more expansion opportunities. At the time of writing this article, Bird Scooters are available in these international cities:
We’ll do our best to keep this list up to date. However, the best way to check if Bird scooters are available in your area is to open the app.
P.S. Looking to make some extra cash? See how to make money in your sleep as a Bird charger.
What Cities Do Not Allow Bird Scooters?
Let’s go over some of the areas where the scooters are banned. In most cases the bans are temporary, and Bird seems to be working with local officials to get the bans lifted.
This city might come as a surprise to some, considering Bird is based in California and has received funding from venture capital firms based in the Bay area.
Towards the end of March of 2018, Bird dropped off hundreds of scooters in San Francisco without receiving approval from the city to do so.
After operating for a few weeks, the city decided to ban all electric scooters until further notice. The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) reported almost 2,000 complaints about the scooters in April and May 2018.
At the end of August, the SFMTA updated their policies to allow dockless electric scooters. However, Bird and Lime scooters are still banned in the city.
The city offered two permits to different companies: Scoot and Skip. The permits allow the two companies to release 625 scooters each for six months, with the potential to increase that number to 2,500 each after that.
Beverly Hills and West Hollywood
In June, the city of West Hollywood voted to ban Lime and Bird scooters from operating within city limits.
The following month, the Beverly Hills city council followed suit and voted to ban the use of all-electric scooters, including Bird Scooters, for six months.
West Hollywood has not set a timeline for when the scooters could be reintroduced.
Earlier this summer, Bird dropped off a bunch of electric scooters in Cambridge and Somerville, Massachusetts. It didn’t take long for local governments to send out cease and desist letters asking for their removal.
When Bird didn’t act, the city took matters into their own hands. Government employees swept in and started confiscating the scooters.
Without putting up a huge fight, the company came back and removed all scooters from the area. The company said the decision was completely voluntary.
We have no information on whether the electric scooters will return to the area.
Why Are Bird Scooters Banned?
As you can tell, Bird and other electric scooter companies are struggling to bring the product to market in some areas.
But why don’t cities want them?
We’ve identified 4 main reasons that city officials are hesitant to allow these scooters in their district:
How They Were Introduced
There are several reasons why some cities weren’t interested in Bird Scooters. The first is the way they were introduced. Earlier this summer, Bird started dropping off scooters overnight.
It was a complete surprise to residents and city officials.
One day there are no scooters. And they next day they are everywhere.
This shocked a lot of people, particularly government officials.
Dropping off hundreds of electric scooters overnight can cause a significant disruption to traffic, both on streets and sidewalks.
From our research, most cities are open to electric scooters. However, these cities need time to lay out the rules and regulations. Most cities want to introduce the scooters slowly and have an educational campaign associated with it.
City officials want to have clear rules on where people can operate and park the scooters to ensure that these personal transportation devices are used safely and don’t interfere with traffic.
Lastly, most cities want a piece of the pie. Like early battles with Uber and Lyft, local governments expect a cut from Bird.
The next reason why these scooters are banned in so many cities are the safety concerns that come with operating an electric scooter. When someone rents a scooter, there agree to full the Bird Scooters rules.
These rules include always wearing a helmet and not riding on restricted areas like sidewalks.
Unfortunately, Bird has no way of enforcing these rules. As a result, many choose to ignore them.
Emergency rooms are reporting giant spikes in scooter-related injuries. One young man even passed away from an electric scooter accident earlier this year.
Do we think the scooters are safe?
When people follow all of Bird’s rules and regulations, yes. However, enforcing these rules has proven to be a challenge.
Getting in the Way
To add to the first two frustrations, many municipalities see these e-scooters as a public nuisance.
One of the best parts of renting these scooters is that you don’t have to return them to a specific area. When you are done riding them, you can hop off and park it anywhere.
Unfortunately, this is also one of the company’s biggest downfalls.
Many have abused this flexible dropoff policy by leaving the scooters in the middle of the sidewalk or in front of doorways.
Bird and Lime Scooters are trying to combat this epidemic. Recently the scooter companies have required people to take a picture of where they parked their scooter to ensure proper parking.
Vandalism related to Bird Scooters is one of the most unfortunate side effects. People in major cities like San Francisco who oppose the scooters have taken things into their own hands.
View this post on Instagram
In some cases, people are intentionally destroying scooters by throwing them into bodies of water or off of tall buildings. This is immature behavior that we hope dies down once the excitement related to these scooters has ended.
The Future of Bird Scooters
We believe the future of Bird Scooters is very bright. The scooter-share company claims to be valued at over $1 billion. And they have been using that money to expand to more and more markets.
Things we off to a rocky start at first. The scooters were being banned left and right. But the company seems to have softened their approach.
They are now working much more closely with local governments to make sure the scooters are released responsibly and respectfully.
They are also taking more steps to make sure the riders are using them responsibly. One of these steps includes verifying a scooter is parked correctly at the end of each trip.
We love the environmentally-friendly nature of the product. We also love the idea that people can make money charging Bird scooters.
The biggest concern that most people have is safety. This is entirely reasonable considering the scooters can go up to 15 mph.
But as long as people use them responsibly, there the Bird movement should continue to grow.
We hope to see Bird, and similar companies like Lime, expand into more areas.
Brett Helling is the owner of Ridester.com. He has been a rideshare driver since early 2012, having completed hundreds of trips for companies including Uber, Lyft, and Postmates. In 2014 he acquired Ridester.com to share his experiences with other drivers. His insights are regularly quoted by publications such as Forbes, Vice, CNBC, and more. He is currently working on a book about working in the Gig Economy, expanding his skill set beyond the rideshare niche. Read more about Brett here.