Over in the States there are people losing their mind over eScooter companies, because they don't have docks and can be left just about anywhere. Even South Park felt the need to make fun of them and their aggressive expansion. Despite many companies that have European ambitions none of them have come to the UK, because they're technically illegal. That's not stopping Bird, though.
The thing about eScooters are that traffic laws prevent such devices from being used on the roads without being licensed. Similarly they're not allowed on the pavement, for obvious reasons. So eScooters, like Segways and not-hoverboards before them, weren't allowed on public roads. The public bit is key, though, since private roads are a whole other ballgame - and that's how Bird is getting round the law.
The company's scooters will only be available to use in Olympic Park, because it's private land and makes it own road rules. Each scooter costs £1 to unlock, plus 20p a minute afterwards, and being a dockless system they can be dumped on the pavement. That way they're ready to trip up random phone-addicted pedestrians that aimlessly wander by, and are easily accessible to be dumped in the nearest body of water.
The good news is that the scooters won't be able to operate beyond the boundaries of Olympic Park, so some hipster hooligans won't be able to whizz around public streets causing chaos and partaking in drive-by avocado pelting. They'll also only be available between 7am and 9pm, and the idea is to work out how British users would use the scooters. Bird’s UK head Richard Corbett said:
“We can get a lot data from this to share with regulators to show this is something that is good for the UK. Our vision is to roll out a number of trials in the UK to demonstrate the viability of the service and to support our efforts to change regulations.”
It's thought that the Department of Transport is considering changing regulations regarding eScooters are part of a consultation on the future of transport in the UK. Should they give them the all clear you can bet these companies will jump at the chance to try and expand here. Frankly, though, after seeing how people reacted to dockless bike-sharing I wouldn't have high hopes for them being that well-received. Especially if idiots drive around the pavements recklessly, actions that are likely to get them punched quite hard.
But who knows, maybe I'll be wrong. We'll see. [The Telegraph]