Bird scooters are shaking up the ridesharing industry by providing a fun and eco-friendly mode of transportation. Bird helps commuters “go the last mile” when public transit drops them off or when the walk is a little too far.
The inexpensive electric scooters by Bird and Lime have recently been deployed on college campuses and major cities. The scooter share programs are thriving wherever people find themselves in need of an easy way to get around.
Users can rent a Bird scooter using a smartphone app, so no cash is required. When you reach your destination, the mobile app charges your payment method. Easy peasy.
Birds are charged overnight so they’re always ready for the morning commute. Chargers are paid to pick them up, take them home, charge them, and then deploy them the next morning.
This article will explore how they work, what you need in order to ride, and even how to earn money for charging them.
But first, we’ll look at this new movement and how it is being received by riders and how cities are reacting.
- What are Bird Scooters?
- How do Bird Scooters Work?
- Community Reception of Bird Scooters
- How Much do Bird Scooters Cost?
- Bird Scooter Rules
- Working for Bird Scooters
- Becoming a Bird Charger
- How Much Money do Bird Chargers Make?
What are Bird Scooters?
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.
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.
How do Bird Scooters work?
Using a Bird scooter is straightforward. You download the Bird app, find a scooter, and take a ride. When it’s over, the app charges you for the ride via your bank account or payment method. To get started:
- Download the app and enter your credit card information.
- Find a Bird using the map feature.
- Bring a helmet and put it on – it’s the law.
- Tap the Unlock icon to choose your Bird.
- Put one foot on the Bird and use the other to give yourself a couple of pushes (like a regular scooter or skateboard).
- When you’re moving, push the throttle on the right handlebar.
- To slow down, use the brake on the left handle.
- Ride with both feet on the board.
- Use bike lanes whenever possible and stay off of sidewalks.
- Park the scooter in a considerate spot like near a bike rack or out of the way of pedestrians or business entrances.
- Use the app to lock the Bird – it will keep charging you money if you don’t.
- After it’s locked, you will be charged for the ride automatically.
There are some things you need to know before you rent a Bird. They’re covered in the rental agreement you have to agree to before you ride.
The rental agreement covers safety rules, what happens if you don’t return the scooter, and fees accrued if you forget to relock it. It’s worth reading.
Community Reception of Bird Scooters
The consensus by riders is pretty unanimous: Birds are fun. You’re not supposed to use them for trick riding or stunts, of course, but just taking a spin to the coffee shop is a lot more fun than walking or riding the bus.
They’re also eco-friendly. E-scooters are an alternative to gas-based vehicles and they use very little electricity to recharge.
Bird understands that for some, its low rental rates are still out of reach. They’ve opened up the One Bird Program in several American cities which allows approved low-income users to ride at a discount.
As beneficial as Bird and Lime scooters might seem, some cities aren’t into it. Riders that misuse the scooters, zoom past scared pedestrians, and park the rental scooters illegally or in front of businesses have caused city offices to be flooded with complaints. And some law-enforcement officers have resorted to confiscating scooters and punishing scooter riders.
Safety is another issue. Even though Bird has given out over 40,000 helmets, people continue to ride without them. Doctors, transportation officials, and concerned citizens have pointed out other safety risks. Most notably, the safety of pedestrians. There are also reports of people riding tandem on one scooter (which is not allowed under Bird terms and conditions). Riders have even been seen using cell phones or earbuds in transit, ignoring traffic rules, and of not being mindful of cars and trucks.
Cities like San Fransico, Los Angeles, Beverly Hills and Santa Monica have banned or placed temporary bans on scooter use. City officials want to learn more about scooter traffic patterns, safety, and other issues before they give the scooters the go ahead. It might get tricky as other interests like Uber and Lyft get involved.
How Much Do Bird Scooters Cost?
E-scooters like Bird and Lime are using the same pay structure – which keeps it simple. It costs $1 to start a ride and then 15 cents for each additional minute.
So, if you take a 20-minute ride (3 miles if you’re going 10 mph), it will cost you $4.00. That’s the initial $1 + 20 minutes X $0.15 per minute = $4.00. That’s pretty cheap. In many cases, it’s even cheaper than taking an Uber Pool or Lyft Line.
For a more detailed answer, check out this guide to Bird Scooter costs.
Bird Scooter Rules
There are a few safety rules for riding a Bird that you might not have thought of. Bird is passionate about safety and about the rules outlined in the rental agreement mentioned above.
Bird outlines safety rules in detail, but here’s a quick preview:
- You must be 18 to ride.
- Only one rider per scooter – no children.
- Don’t ride on sidewalks unless local laws require it or allow it.
- Ride in bike lines or close to the right-hand curb.
- Be considerate of pedestrians – they have a right to walk freely and safely.
- Avoid uneven surfaces like grass, inclines, potholes, etc.
- Wear a helmet (order a free helmet if you need it with the app).
- Follow traffic rules and observe traffic signs.
- Use caution at crosswalks and be mindful of pedestrians and vehicles.
- Park the Bird either in designated bike/scooter parking or out of the way – don’t block walkways, driveways, fire hydrants, access ramps, or business entrances.
- Don’t park the bird behind locked gates or inaccessible places – it could cost you as much as $120 if Bird has to get it out.
- Make sure the kickstand is down and the Bird is upright.
Working for Bird Scooters
“Bird Chargers” charge scooters overnight in much the same way as Lime Juicers. You use the app to find scooters that need charging, pick them up, and then take them home and charge them overnight. When you drop them off the next morning, you get paid per scooter.
It’s a great side-hustle for people with a day job and great alternative to working with car share programs like Uber. You don’t have to deal with people and you choose when and how much you work.
Some Chargers say it’s a lot like playing a game like Pokémon Go and call themselves “Bird hunters.” You “hunt” for and “capture” Birds to charge. Sometimes it’s challenging, but when it is you’re paid well for the effort.
Once you’ve signed up and been approved, you’re ready to hunt and capture. Charger Mode shows Birds on the app map that need charging and distinguishes them by the dollar amount you can earn. Green points on the map are easy and pay the least, Golds are slightly more challenging and pay more, and Reds are hard to find but pay the most – as much as $25.
Some Birds are nearly impossible to find because riders horde them by keeping them inside their home or behind locked gates. It costs them a $100.00 per scooter to keep them over 24 hours, so don’t try that in your own home.
When you find a Bird, you scan the QR code to capture it. Then you load it in your car, SUV, truck, or van and take it home and charge it for an average of 3-5 hours. If the Bird is damaged, report it and Bird will come pick it up.
The next morning you’ll “release” the Bird “into the wild” at a “Bird Nest” near you. Nests are usually in public places that are on the well-beaten path. Your captive Birds have to be in the nest by 7 a.m. You’re paid right after you release them right into your bank account.
If you need help you can contact customer service or ask other Chargers. Bird Chargers have formed a community (that is surprisingly not called a flock) on an active subreddit to share or ask for information and tips on Bird charging.
How Do You Become a Bird Scooter Charger?
Just use the app and click on Become a Bird Charger. Or visit the page on their website. You’ll fill in banking and tax info so they can pay you directly into your account. Next, you’ll get a phone call from Bird in which they’ll explain how being a Charger works.
The guidelines for being a Charger are less stringent than other ride gigs, but there are a few:
- Must be 18 and possess a valid driver’s license
- Must have a motor vehicle large enough to pick up and safely transport scooters
- Must be able to charge at least 3 Birds at a time
- Must live in or very near the service area for the Nest drop off at 7 a.m.
If you’re approved, they’ll give you 3 chargers to start with and you’ll get access on the app to the Charger Mode. Your chargers will arrive in the mail. A lot of people have signed up to be Chargers so there might be a delay in getting yours. There are some instances in which you can pick them up.
How much do Bird Scooter Chargers Make?
Chargers are usually paid an average of $5 per Bird, but some people have reported up to $25 for difficult to find birds.
Atlanta chargers have seen rates reduced to $3 for some Birds but their maps still show $20 Birds available.
The best way to maximize your earnings is to create a strategy. If you live close to a Bird’s Nest, it will be more profitable to capture those Birds before anyone else gets to them. Gas is money and you don’t want it to eat your profits. If you don’t live by a Bird’s Nest, plan a route for hunting that makes sense according to mileage and traffic. The more Birds you capture in one area, the more profit you make.
Hard to find Birds can be a waste of time and not worth the payout. Especially if you see it as work. There are Chargers who are making a good profit on them, though. The difference is that capturing hidden Birds is like a game for them and it’s entertainment as well as a moneymaker.
Charging for Bird is best as a side gig for most people. They can pick up easy to find Birds on the way home from work, charge them overnight, and drop them back off in the morning for very little effort. The people who can make it their living will be working hard for the bigger payouts.
Bird and Lime scooters are set to revolutionize the alternative transportation market. But only if they can get the structure in place and appease their detractors. Even though they’ve had trouble in a few places, the scooter-share companies are still expanding into new places. Some cities welcome them. It will be interesting to see how they do in these new cities and those to come.