By Owen Woods | firstname.lastname@example.org
Photos by Alejandro Torres
BIRD scooters are here, and they’re fun. No doubt about it. Ripping through town at up to 15 miles an hour is a new experience for me and for the whole Valley. There are plenty of them to go around. Every corner on Alamosa’s Main Street and in the nooks and crannies of our town you’ll probably find a lone scooter or a whole gang of them waiting their turn.
It’s such a fun experience, in fact, one of the scooters ended up in Chama. Spread the love.
My ride lasted about 20 minutes and I rode just a little over two miles. The evening was cool and the traffic was sparse. For me, this was the ideal time to scooter around. I saw three other riders during my Bird venture.
The overall process is easy and intuitive. The ease of use in both activating the scooter and riding one is seamless. It takes mere seconds to get it all going. Before you know it you’re zooming down Fourth Street.
Though the scooter offers a smooth ride, some of Alamosa’s streets prove to be bumpy while at speed. The smoother concrete around town is where the buttery ride is at its peak.
It all starts by downloading the Bird app. From there you enter some form of payment information. Paypal, Apple Pay, or just a debit or credit card can be used. You can preload an amount so that riding becomes more seamless. There’s a $1 charge to get it started. After you get going, you are charged $0.39 per minute. There’s a minimum ride time equalling $3.50 that you must meet. Riders must be 18 or older, and the app requires age verification.
The app allows you to reserve a ride or set up a group ride, as each scooter has an individual QR code. The app will use your phone’s camera, if you allow it, to scan that QR code and begin the ride within seconds.
After all the payment is done and you’ve scanned the QR code, it is now time to ride. Pop the kickstand to its upward position, step onto the scooter with whichever foot you are comfortable with and give it a few pushes. There’s a bicycle-like brake lever on the left and a thumb accelerator on the right.
From there, well, the town’s yours. Just obey the traffic laws, and even though helmets are not required, they are recommended. You can read Bird’s safety tips here.
Once you’ve arrived at your destination, or have decided to stop, find a designated spot out of traffic or some place where the scooter is not impeding cars or pedestrians, pop the kickstand, hit ‘end ride’ on the app and boom, all done. The app will make you take a picture of the scooter that proves its in a safe location. You can find starting instructions here.
There are plans to implement up to 75 scooters in Alamosa. The scooters can be found pretty much everywhere around town. Most of them are centralized near the college and in the downtown area. The app gives you a real-time view of where every scooter is, along with the battery life.
Bird and the city of Alamosa have a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) regarding the scooters, which Bird says is provided to the city at no cost.
Bird’s mission is to offset emissions and provide an alternate transportation system that has a very low climate impact.
The scooters are what Bird calls micro-electric vehicles. The purpose of these vehicles is to reduce the number of cars on the roads, which in turn reduces carbon dioxide emissions. “In 2021, Bird riders had the same impact on carbon sequestration as one year of protecting 2.5 square miles of the Amazon rainforest.”
Bird states that in 2020, their company became entirely carbon neutral.
In 2021, according to Bird, use of their vehicles saved 1.1 million gallons of gasoline and over $100 million was spent in local industries across U.S. cities via the use of electric scooters and bikes.
Bird currently operates in more than 350 cities worldwide. One other aspect of the scooters is their physical impact on the space around them. Ten Bird scooters can fit in one car parking space.
An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated the maximum speed of Bird scooters.