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Cruise Through Your City: How Bird Scooters Work in 2020

July 20, 2020 //

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Major cities and college campuses around the world are upgrading their micro-mobility options by bringing electric scooters into their residents’ lives. As scooter shares continue to grow in popularity, Bird scooters remain one of the leading brands in the race. Aside from Lime, this is one of the most popular companies in the industry.

The coronavirus pandemic has led to record volumes of e-scooter usage around the world as many consumers in big cities like Austin and Los Angeles seek alternatives to public transit. Bird is one of many platforms that turn electric scooters into the clear choice for a more sustainable, affordable, and safer ride option.

Here’s all the information you need about Bird scooters and how they work.


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What Are Bird Scooters?

Bird scooters are all dockless electric scooters that you can find and rent with your smartphone app and drop off at almost any safe site near your destination.

Bird was founded in 2017 in Santa Monica, California by a former executive of Lyft and Uber. Investors were keen from the get-go and there are more than a billion dollars behind this venture.

The unique thing about scooter companies like Bird and Lime are that they work without a docking system. That means you don’t have to go to a particular place to rent one. You either happen upon one or you use an in-app map to find the nearest Bird. When you’re done, you park it at your destination.

A map of where Bird scooters are available
Image via Bird

Some cities weren’t quite ready for a fleet of dockless electric scooters. So those cities are restricting the scooters until they can find a way to make everyone happy. Other cities are embracing this transportation alternative. Bird is even expanding in other countries.

But unlike other scooter-share apps, Bird offers up to three different ride types depending on your market. Below, we’ll explain each of the Bird ride options.

Bird One

Bird One is the most widely available Bird scooter today. While it isn’t the original scooter model made by the brand, Bird One has largely replaced earlier options like the Bird Xiaomi M365 and Bird Zero. This ride option is more powerful and has two times the battery life.

This line of scooters can run as far as 30 miles and is far more durable.

Bird One is currently the only scooter you can purchase as well as rent. When you purchase Bird One (priced at $1,299), you get $100 in ride credit, free built-in GPS tracking, and free anti-theft protection.

Bird Two

Bird Two is a recently launched scooter model that takes the comfort of a Bird One ride even further. It also allows you to speed up faster while also providing safety features: better control and self-sealing tires.

This model doesn’t just exceed Bird One’s battery life by over 50%. It also has a tougher battery that allows you to navigate with peace of mind through rain and even light snow. There’s less of a chance you’ll run into a damaged Bird Two scooter, as this model can self-report its issues.

Bird Cruiser

Bird Cruisers are electric scooters and moped hybrids that are slowly rolling out across the United States. Instead of a solo ride on your feet, Cruisers provide a comfortable seated ride for up to two people. They provide a bit more power for riding uphill and downhill thanks to their two 20-inch wheels. That means you can get a smooth ride wherever you’re headed.

Bird Cruisers are extremely similar to the previously launched Wheels Bikes and Scoot Mopeds. So if you’ve rented one of these hybrid products, you have the gist of the Cruiser experience.

How Much Do Bird Scooters Cost?

Bird scooters cost $1 to unlock and 10 cents to 35 cents per minute to rent. However, the exact per-minute cost varies between cities. This current price range actually reflects a recent change in pricing, which doubled costs in some cities while dropping prices in others.

In comparison, Lime — one of Bird’s top competitors — charges 15 cents per minute plus the same $1 unlocking fee. With this in mind, Bird scooter costs are not always the cheapest scooter rental prices around. Bird may charge you more than double Lime’s low rates in some markets, but you’ll get the flexibility to travel anywhere within your local coverage area at a fairly low cost.

Bird usually has a minimum ride cost as well. For example, in Phoenix, even if you only ride for one minute, you’re still obligated to pay $3.50. You can find your city’s ride minimum and per-minute rates in the “Payment” tab of your app.

Bird hasn’t confirmed exactly how the Cruiser rental pricing will look, but you can expect a slightly more expensive rate or a different pricing structure. To give you an idea of what to expect, the Bird-owned Scoot Mopeds currently cost $4 per ride ($6 during rush hour), which includes 10 cents per minute following the initial 15 free minutes.

Frequent users may soon be able to get unlimited rides and scooter deliveries to their doors for an affordable monthly fee, as well. Residents of San Francisco, Miami, and Washington, D.C. can sign up for the waitlist in the meantime.

How to Sign Up for Bird

Before you sign up for Bird, be aware every scooter rider needs to be 18 years old. This is standard across most e-scooter companies. Actually, Bird is lenient about requirements compared to some competitors. It only requires helmets and driver’s licenses in areas where local governments deem it necessary.

As long as you meet the age requirements, you can easily sign up for your Bird account by downloading the mobile app from the App Store or Google Play store. Then, open the app and enter your email or tap “Continue With Google” to sign up with your Google account.

If you sign up with your email, you will need to verify your email. Otherwise, your account will be ready.

However, we recommend setting up your payment method during this process to ensure you’re set to ride. To do so, tap the menu icon on the upper left corner of your home screen. Then, select the “Payment” tab.

Here, you can connect your Google Pay account or add a credit card. Alternatively, you can tap “Add Cash” and find partnered retailers near you. At retail partners, you can scan your bar code to reload your balance with cash. These partners are commonly CVS Pharmacy, 7-Eleven, Family Dollar, and Dollar General locations in the U.S.

Renting Scooters With the Bird App

When you’re ready to rent a Bird scooter on your app, look for a nearby scooter on your home screen. Browse your map and tap on the Bird icons until you find a scooter that has the battery level that you need. Again, a full charge on any Bird ride can get you as far as 30 miles.

Once located you find the scooter you want on your app, head over or reserve it for up to 30 minutes. When your 30 minutes is up, other Bird users can unlock the scooter.

When you arrive at the Bird scooter location, tap “Ride” at the bottom of your home screen to scan the QR code at the front of the scooter. If this doesn’t work, manually type in the QR code.

Your scooter should then unlock. Start by testing the brakes and the throttle on your Bird scooter until you can comfortably slow down and speed up. Then, you’re all set to take off. Make sure to stay in the bike lanes, follow all traffic laws, and stay within the scooter boundaries displayed in your Bird app.

When you’re ready to end your ride, park your vehicle upright, out of important pathways, and within approved areas as shown in your app screen. You can then end your ride in the Bird app.

Frequently Asked Questions

Bird scooters are making waves from its Santa Monica headquarters to destinations around the world. If you want to learn more about how the e-scooter company works, here are some frequently asked questions:

Where are Bird scooters available?

Bird operates in over 100 cities around the world, as well as on nearly 40 university campuses in the United States. While most of its markets are in the U.S., Bird can also be found throughout Europe and in Chile, Israel, and Mexico.

For an up-to-date list of all Bird scooter locations throughout the world, head to this map page.

Does Bird offer a referral program for users to earn credits?

While Bird appears to have put the referral program on pause in light of COVID-19, customers previously had access to a referral program. If this returns, new customers will get a free $5 credit when they sign up with a friend’s referral code. Current users can get a $5 credit when every referral takes their first ride.

No alternative Bird promo codes are active at this time.

Can I make money by charging Bird scooters?

Absolutely. When you sign up to be a Bird scooter charger, you can earn money by picking up scooters around your city, bringing them home to charge, and dropping them off — all on your own schedule.

If you want a more technical gig, you can also consider signing up as a Bird scooter mechanic. These contractors help with repairs as well as drop-offs for highly damaged scooters.

Note: Gigs in some markets may be temporarily unavailable due to COVID-19.

Enjoy the Ride

When you want to explore the city without public transportation or costly Uber or Lyft rides, Bird scooters can be your best micro-mobility option. With availability all throughout the U.S. and select global cities, Bird is redefining how people travel and commute.

However, there are plenty of other rising scooter startups. Whether you live in an area where Bird isn’t available or you simply want another scooter business option, you may have another choice. Check out our guide to Spin scooters to find out if the brand is more your style.

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