This weekend, hundreds of electric scooters were dumped in “nests” throughout Balboa Peninsula without any announcements or previous marketing to the area. Friday night, about 50 arrived in the 32nd street area, and by noon on Sunday, over 200 were launched throughout the peninsula.
Immediately, there was much confusion about how to use the things, but the process is very simple once you download the app (Available along with $5 in free rides with our code, here: https://gift.bird.co/rcf9GnLoVO). Most iPhone users didn’t have any problems, but Android users reported problems with Bluetooth connectivity. (I also had similar problems with Bluetooth on my Pixel2 XL, but my girlfriend was kind enough to let me ride the one she got working without any problems).
These scooters seem to have some major balance problems, and either through instability or by careless riders, many were found in precarious and even dangerous positions, with this one nearly causing an accident on the boardwalk when a line of people obscured its view to an oncoming bicycle behind the crowd (thanks to Kathi Athey for the photo)
But the scooters are quick to get used to and can ride 16 miles on a full charge, with a top speed of 15.5mph with a “max load” rated at 220lbs– even though the Bird rental agreement says riders may not exceed 200lbs. (These scooters are actually the “Mi Electric Scooters” manufactured by Ninebot, subsidiary of Xiamoni, which also owns Segway, and they retail for $320.)
At 15mph and at a cost of $1/ride plus $0.15/min, a rider could go from the Wedge to Dog Beach (5.5 miles) in about 20 minutes for a cost of approximately $4– roughly half the cost of an Uber or Lyft, and both being in areas that the $15/head “trolley” doesn’t even service.
Bird has a long history of rogue, non-advertised “launch-first-permit-later” events like this, mostly in larger cities, and even launching in Cincinnati on Thursday morning, in near-tandem with Newport.
According to municipal code, these scooters are NOT allowed on the sidewalks, NOT allowed on the boardwalk, and ARE required to be in the streets. It is our hope that the city allows them on the boardwalk, or we will be facing some serious traffic congestion problems in the near future– assuming that the city doesn’t ban them because they make the so-called-trolley even more obsolete.