The news site of Santa Barbara City College.

The Channels

The news site of Santa Barbara City College.

The Channels

The news site of Santa Barbara City College.

The Channels

The recklessness of IV’s Bird scooters is endangering lives

The Channels Opinion Pages | STAFF COLUMN

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.

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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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