“We’re giving a grand overview of the universe from Bird’s perspective,” said Maurice A. Henderson II, Bird’s director of government partnerships of his mission. “We (Bird) invented the space for scooter sharing and we were the first ones, as far as I know, in this market.”
Henderson offered statistics reflecting micro-mobility’s large and growing share of the San Diego transportation marketplace.
“Fifty-plus percent of our riders polled recently used scooters as a commuting tool,” he said. “Twenty-seven percent of the trips they used to take on Ubers and Lyfts and taxis are now scooters. People are using it as a part of their commute home, as opposed to getting in their car in rush hour.”
Added Henderson: “Our spike in ridership now usually starts on Friday afternoon between 3 and 7 p.m. People are now starting their weekends, Saturday mornings, taking Bird rides.”
Bird is all in on encouraging its riders to wear helmets, obey the City’s new scooter regulations and to educate riders on proper etiquette and rules of the road on Bird Rides app available on iPhone and Android. Riders, to get started: Download the app and enter their credit card information, find a Bird using the map feature, bring a helmet and wear it, tap the Unlock icon to choose their Bird, then put one foot on the Bird and use the other to give themselves a couple of pushes (like a regular scooter or skateboard).
“One of the first things you see when you open our app, besides no riding on sidewalks, is the message to obey the rules of the road and to wear a helmet,” pointed out Henderson, noting, “We’ve given away 65,000 free helmets over the last couple of years. We offer free helmets via the app that you can order for a $10 shipping cost.”
Concerning Bird customer service, Henderson said, “We’re an operator who actually has an operations team that’s out there.”
Bird also has devised a way for riders, or even non-riders, to report illegal scooter use to the company.
“On our app, you can report to Bird when you see somebody improperly using a vehicle, inclusive of double riding, kids riding, etc.,” said Henderson. “We can then actually reach out to the individual rider on the back end. We’re trying to continually educate them (riders) on proper etiquette.”
Added Henderson, “It’s a top priority for us. We want to make sure people are using the bike lanes, hoping to create a more bikable and livable community for everybody. That’s what we’re trying to invest in as a company.”
Though it is true many Bird riders are under age 50, Henderson noted, “We’re seeing riders of all ages.”
Pointing out Bird “has learned from the mistakes from the beginning in fall 2017 to spring 2018,” Henderson added, “We’ve learned a great deal over that time, and we hope our operational excellence is something that’s been showing. We’re doing our best to try and distinguish ourselves.”
Regarding transit share between cars and other travel modes, Henderson concluded, “No one is saying we’re going to be getting rid of cars anytime soon. But you can’t build your way (roadways) out of congestion. So you’ve got to find other ways to leverage and use the road together.”