The bikes of the future are looking more and more like the bikes of your past. We’re talking, of course, about the renaissance of the scooter, which seems to have hit a new stride now that it’s found electricity. Escooters seem to be popping up all over the country these days and have become so popular that a number of companies are now looking to offer escooter sharing systems. The latest to enter the scene is Bird, a company founded by a man who knows a little something about mobility solutions. His name is Travis VanderZanden, who was previously the vice president of growth at Uber, and previous to that, the chief operating officer of Lyft.
But now, he is on his own, and launching a new company that doesn’t offer car services, but rather scooter services. Bird is based in Santa Monica, California, and over the course of the last six months, VanderZanden has launched around 1,000 of these escooters around the city. So far, he tells TechCrunch, 50,000 people have taken around 250,000 rides.
Getting started on Bird ought to be pretty easy. New riders need a driver’s license and a credit card number (which they enter into the Bird app). Once that is done, you are charged $1 to unlock the scooter and an additional 15 cents for each minute. You will be able to go as far as the scooter can take you and at speeds of up to 15 miles per hour. Apparently, some folks have made Birds take them all the way to Los Angeles International Airport, while others have ridden from Santa Monica into downtown L.A. (about a 15.5-mile commute).
For the time being, the dockless escooters are only available from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. Once that timeframe is up, Bird employees collect the scooters to clear them off the streets, and then replace them in front of coffee houses and other small businesses, as requested, beginning early the next morning.
So far, Bird seems to be doing quite well. The company managed to close a $15 million Series A funding round.
“People are taking notice of how quickly Bird is growing,” VanderZanden said, noting that a number of copycat companies have already popped up. “Preventing car ownership is the goal of all these companies. I think if all of us are successful, that’s fine.”