Yorktown Sentry

Bird Scooters: Will They Fly?

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Bird scooters have been found on Yorktown's campus.

Bird scooters have been found on Yorktown's campus.

Ella McNamee

Ella McNamee

Bird scooters have been found on Yorktown's campus.

Lizzie Koumans, Sentry Staff Reporter

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Bird Scooters have taken over Arlington. Bird is a new company that offers dockless electric scooters available to anyone who downloads the Bird app. These scooters provide an easy, environmentally friendly way for you to make your commutes or travel around town. The appeal for this service is that it does not require you to sit in endless minutes of traffic or go through the hassle of biking or walking. However, one glaring drawback is the major safety risks of racing down the bike lane of a crowded street.

These scooters are the fast food of transportation. The rides are cheap, starting at $1 and adding only 15 cents for every minute you travel. Also, finding a scooter is easy. They lay scattered on sidewalks and bike paths everywhere, which can be dangerous to bikers and pedestrians. Just as fast food can be unhealthy and dangerous in excess, electric scooters can be hazardous if people don’t use them wisely.

Instead of parking in bike racks or staying clear of public pathways as Bird wants customers to do, many users drop their scooters onto walkways or leave them blocking paths. When a biker rides down a path quickly, they may be unable to stop or swerve before colliding with a scooter. These crashes can cause serious injuries and recently doctors have claimed that there has been a spike in scooter-related injuries. Instead of parking in these dangerous positions, riders should carefully follow Bird’s instructions and park in out-of-the-way spots.

Injuries related to these scooters do not only result when a scooter blocks a pathway, but also when users ride irresponsibly. Scooter-users are supposed to wear helmets to protect themselves from getting head injuries. Bird created this rule and the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) also mentions this, but very few people wear helmets as they ride. Another rule outlined by Bird is that riders should be at least 18 years of age with a valid driver’s license. Many riders are teenagers under 18, some even using the scooters to travel from home to school and back. There are many riders that blatantly violate these rules but face no consequences.

Scooters also affect bikers because they have to share the bike lane. Bikes can travel much faster than a scooter’s top speed of 15 miles per hour. This speed difference causes problems when bikers have to pass scooters in the narrow bike lane, especially when scooter-riders try to drive on busy streets. It is hard for bikers to ride in bike lanes in the first place, adding scooters in the same lane makes it even more tough.

Other than their safety issues, these scooters have many positives. Riding one of these scooters allows you to skip out on long waits in traffic, and avoid the struggle to find a parking spot. Bird scooters are also dubbed the “Uber of scooters” because users can find them easily through a smartphone app. They are also battery powered. This leads to less pollution than the cars they travel beside. These aspects of the scooters show how helpful they are when used properly, but there are not enough rules currently for these positives to shine through.

Overall, these scooters have potential but have not been around long enough for there to be proper rules that protect people’s safety. Bird scooters are a hazard to their riders, as well as many others around them. Establishing laws around these new and convenient scooters is the key to making them less harmful to everyone in the community.

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Bird Scooters: Will They Fly?