I know that a lot has been written about the arrival and use of the “Bird” electric scooter. I feel that I should point out a few details that will hopefully reduce the stress of riding.
The rapid rate whereby electric scooters have become part of the Santa Monica scene is quite amazing. Hopefully this mode of transportation expands. The advantages of mobile electric transportation include the reduction of automobile congestion, especially in downtown Santa Monica. Even more importantly this could and should reduce the amount of smog that pours into our air from our gas “guzzling” vehicles.
This is a growing industry and rules and regulations are continuously being added and changed. Users should be aware of the following rules which I hope help you further enjoy your riding experience.
- A valid driver’s license or learners permit is a requirement. A fine of up to $190 can be imposed for not having one. I see many young children riding a Bird who obviously don’t have a license. Too dangerous. A recent change to the app, now requires that you scan your Drivers License every time before unlocking the scooter.
- Bicycle helmets must be worn. Hardly anyone wears a helmet. The fine again is $190. The cost of buying an acceptable helmet can be as low as $20 to $30. It does not make sense not to buy and use it.
- Riding on sidewalks, which is pretty common is also a violation and a fine can be imposed.
- Riding while being “stoned” makes you liable to a fine of $352. Be careful.
- If you want to use the scooter at night you need to have a white headlight, a red reflector on the back and yellow reflectors on each side. The rider should also have a white light attached to themselves. Riding at night is so dangerous, be safe.
- Do not ride on a highway.
- Users must ride alone and cannot carry any packages or give a second person a ride. It is transportation for the driver only.
- The scooters are dockless but be careful not to park them in a way that may pose a hazard or obstruct access to pedestrians or vehicles. Park it neatly, out of the way. An additional impound fee of $60 will be charged.
- Remember that most of the bike paths alongside the Ocean front are designated for bikes only. The amount of bird riders on these paths have increased drastically. They are a danger to pedestrians, surfers trying to cross the path and especially cyclists who are simply trying to exercise on a path built for them to use. It would be greatly advantageous for everyone if scooters were used in lieu of transportation and not for fun on paths designated for bicycles. Let us not wait for someone to be injured.
The SMPD have to date not been very aggressive in ticketing transgressors but this will change. Don’t spoil your ride by being ticketed with resulting in heavy fines and appearances in court.