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The recklessness of IV’s Bird scooters is endangering lives

The Channels Opinion Pages | STAFF COLUMN

Rian Noel Pitts-Lopez, Staff Writer

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Bird scooters, electric scooters that can be rented out via an app, just hit the streets of Isla Vista – and so will students if they are not careful.

As I was driving to pick up a friend from her house in Isla Vista I nearly ran into a couple as they flew down the street on their Bird. They did not stop at the stop sign, neither of them were wearing a helmet and they were sharing the same scooter. This sparked my immediate concern.

On Sept. 27, Bird scooters were introduced to Isla Vista. So far, students seem to have embraced these scooters and have started renting them immediately. However, nearly every person I have seen does not follow the rules or laws for operating one of these electric scooters, making the streets more dangerous for no good reason.

One of these rules is that everyone is required to wear a helmet. There are no helmets that are provided when renting a Bird, so you are required to bring your own. Isla Vista is a biking community but helmet culture is not very prominent. These electric scooters can reach a speed of 15 miles an hour within a few seconds, and because streets are usually so congested with bike, pedestrian, and car traffic, a helmet is especially necessary.

Bird will send a helmet if requested through its app, and all one has to pay for is shipping and handling. This might seem practical and convenient, but a lot of people either do not know about this feature, do not want to pay for the shipping or handling, do not want to wait a week to receive the helmet or figure that they do not need a helmet while riding because others don’t wear one.

Another rule requires renters to be at least 18 years old with a valid driver’s license, but this is difficult to enforce via an app.

The one person per scooter rule seems to be the most broken. I constantly see two people sharing a scooter in Isla Vista. This usually happens because there is rarely two charged scooters available at the same time. But because they were not designed for more than one rider, this causes even more accidents in the streets.

The nightlife in Isla Vista is extremely active and many students often go to Del Playa parties every night of the week. A more convenient way to get down to the parties would be on a scooter, but Bird scooters have no reflectors or lights attached for night riding and are supposed to be ridden only during the day anyway. Car drivers have a hard enough time seeing bikes and pedestrians at night, even with reflectors.

There are safer alternative mode of transportation, such as the Hopr ride-sharing bikes being offered at UCSB. Ride-sharing bikes are just as easily accessible as a Bird scooter is, but less dangerous. Now that they are going electric by adding an external battery to the bikes, however, it poses the same problems as Bird scooters do.

There is no reason for these bikes to turn electric. Isla Vista is less than 2 square miles in area, making electric assistance unnecessary.

The Isla Vista community will not receive much from the Bird scooters, possibly a dollar a day per scooter. While Bird makes more money, students will inevitably pay the price.

It’s all fun and games until someone gets hurt.

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2 Comments

2 Responses to “The recklessness of IV’s Bird scooters is endangering lives”

  1. James on October 9th, 2018 9:39 am

    I like scooters and they need to be used responsibly

    The Bird App requires that one scans their driver’s license when setting up the Bird account

    Bird Scooters have white lights in the front and red lights in the rear and reflectors on the side and they may not be rented after 9p

    Helmet requirement nixed for electric Scooters September 2018
    http://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billTextClient.xhtml?bill_id=201720180AB2989

    Electric Scooters banned on all UCSB bicycle paths and sidewalks = $200+ citation if caught
    http://www.policy.ucsb.edu/files/docs/policies/Interim_Electronic_Scooter_Policy.pdf

    Sign up with Bird and use Promo code XOVZBG in the payment section of the App “enter code” to get a free ride valued up to $5! https://gift.bird.co/AYMbduwxSQ

  2. Tyler on December 4th, 2018 10:55 pm

    Hi, I believe your article represents one perspective of the scooters. You addressed a few issues that I would like to bring up. first, you talk about wearing a helmet I believe it is your opinion that it would make the scooter community safe, you’re right it probably would but the thing is just as it is in bikes, motorcycles, skateboards etc. it is my choice if I want to wear a helmet, not yours. So if you want to wear one go ahead but don’t try and force everyone else to wear something just because you believe its the right thing. That ideology seems to fall right in line with dictators all around the world. Also, you talk about using bird scooters at night which to me seems very unlikely because people take them off the streets and charge them at night. You also went on to say that birds have no reflectors of lights. I don’t know what scooters you are looking at but birds have bright lights along the front, ground, and back. Maybe while you were busing judging the people riding the scooters you missed them. You also talk about isle vista and the square mileage of it saying that it makes electronic assistance unnecessary maybe for someone like you it does but once again it isn’t about what you believe if I don’t want to walk .1 miles and I want to ride a public scooter I should have that freedom. You don’t see how these birds help the community obviously because you seem a little detached from reality, so I will try and explain them. All those kids that leave parties drunk or maybe slightly inebriated on Del Playa hop in a bird that goes 15mph instead of driving cars that kill people and can surpass 100mph+. Also, we can look at the environmental factor and how much these birds help are already eroding atmosphere. Try and look at all different perspectives of a situation because sometimes the perspective you first see is through blind eyes.

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The recklessness of IV’s Bird scooters is endangering lives