Bird scooter
Frances Iacuzzi—Bird


Reimagining your commute

Environmentalists have long decried the “first mile, last mile” problem in transportation. Because public transit stops are often a little too far from the places where people begin and end their journeys, they choose to drive, clogging up the roads and polluting the air. Bird is pioneering a new way to get those people to leave their cars at home: electric scooters, rentable on the fly. Now operating in about 40 U.S. cities, the Santa Monica-based startup provides fleets of scooters that riders can locate through a smartphone app, rent for $1 (plus 15 or 20 cents per minute, depending on the market) and then park wherever their trip happens to end. Competitors are pouring into the space, betting that small, electric vehicles are the mobility of the future—even if the buzzy fleets have not been universally welcomed. Some cities have banned them, while locals have raised concerns about helmet-less riders and complained about scooters cluttering sidewalks. (At the end of the day, Bird workers swoop scooters up, charge them and strategically relocate them for the next day’s riders.) But the company estimates that in Santa Monica alone the scooters have prevented more than 1.6 million miles of driving. And venture capitalists clearly think the idea is a winner. Since former Lyft and Uber executive Travis VanderZanden founded Bird in 2017, the company has raised $418 million.—Katy Steinmetz

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