August 13, 2020 Breaking News, Latest News, and Videos

Bird Rolls Out $1,299 Private Scooter

Bird One hits the streets as study released on dangers of e-scooters

By Sam Catanzaro 

With four major scooter companies on the Westside, it is easy to forget that before Jump, before Lyft and before Lime, Birds were the only e-scooter in Santa Monica. Now the transportation company, which some have valued as being worth over a billion dollars, is offering an e-scooter for private ownership to go alongside Bird’s fleet of rental scooters. As the company is looking to expand, however, local lawmakers are exploring further regulation. 

Bird One, which was announced by the company on Wednesday, is priced at $1,299 and has a range of 30 miles per charge. Bird One will also be available for people to ride as part of Bird’s shared fleet of e-scooters starting May 8. In a statement announcing the scooter’s arrival, Bird Founder and CEO Travis VanderZanden, touted Bird One as the company’s most durable scooter 

“Nearly two years ago, we launched our sharing business with retail, consumer e-scooters that lasted about three months in the sharing environment,” VanderZanden said. “[Bird One] is forecasted to last in the sharing environment for well over a year. Given the excitement and demand for our next generation e-scooter, we are also making a limited supply of Bird Ones available to own.

Bird One scooters will be available in three colors: black, white and rose. Devices will be delivered in the U.S. in the summer. People who purchase Bird Ones will be given $100 in credit to use on Bird rental devices. 

While it is unclear how many people will purchase these devices, the rollout of Bird Ones in the rental market will begin in Los Angeles, and therefore many are expected to be seen zipping in and around Santa Monica, but riders of these devices — whether a rental or their own — should be wary of where they are riding. 

According to a recent study by the Austin Public Health Department, half of the injuries in a two-month period involving e-scooters in Austin, Texas were categorized as severe. 

These findings are similar to a January 2019 UCLA study that shed light on the dangers of e-scooter crashes, especially in Santa Monica. 

According to the researchers, people involved in e-scooter accidents are often injured seriously enough — from fractures, dislocated joints and head trauma — to require treatment in emergency rooms.

“We’ve seen teeth knocked out, jaws broken in several places, noses crushed and head injuries including skull fractures. The most common injuries are wrist, ankle, collarbone and shoulder fractures,” said Dr. Wally Ghurabi, medical director of the Nethercutt Emergency Center at UCLA Medical Center, Santa Monica.

The researchers examined data from 249 people who were treated at the emergency departments of UCLA Medical Center, Santa Monica, and Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center between Sept. 1, 2017, and Aug. 31, 2018. 

The study found that about one-third of them arrived by ambulance, an indication of the severity of their injuries.

The Austin study, unlike the UCLA study, offers a further insight into scooter crashes as the researchers interviewed riders who were involved in crashes. One-third of riders were injured during their first ever ride on these devices. 38 percent said they would use a scooter again and one-third said they received zero training on how to operate the scooter before riding it.

On March 15, Santa Monica experienced its first e-device death when Michael Ramljak was killed by a passing motorist after falling off his personal e-bike near the corner at Third Street and Hill Street. The suspect is still at large to the Santa Monica Police Department (SMPD).

And it is not just riders of these devices that are put at risk. Less than a month after Ramljak was killed, on April 13, a beloved pastor of a church in Pacific Palisades was seriously injured in a hit-and-run accident recklessly caused by the user of a dockless electric scooter, who fled the scene, on the sidewalk outside of the church rectory, and could not be immediately apprehended at the time of the accident. 

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