There’s an electric scooter epidemic sweeping the nation from Washington, D.C., to Los Angeles, and it’s infecting everyone around us.
First, it was the businessman in a suit riding to his next meeting. Then, the woman all dressed up to meet her friends for happy hour, the couple on a cute date and finally, the group of millennials en route to an avocado toast brunch. Pray for them. They never saw it coming.
Now that the craze has hit Charlotte, no one is safe from the trendiness of the electric scooter, including myself. I recently rode one to see what all the fuss was about and I have to admit, it was pretty fun.
Although there are other brands like Lime, I’ve seen Bird scooters around my apartment the most, so I downloaded the app. Using my location, I was able to see all the Bird scooters in my area and their battery level. Luckily, there were two right outside my building.
I walked up to the scooter, scanned the code on the handlebar and entered my credit card information. It cost $1 to start and 15 cents per minute to ride. Bird riders must be at least 18 years old with a valid driver’s license. By law, Bird requires riders to wear their own helmet, but also offers free helmets. You just have to cover shipping costs.
The app instructed me to push the gound two or three times with my foot to get the scooter going and then, while in motion, press the throttle button with my right thumb. It took a few minutes to get used to the speed, which reaches up to 15 miles per hour, but I eventually felt comfortable enough to take it for a real spin.
I rode down East 10th Street and took Central Avenue into the heart of Plaza-Midwood. I passed Moo & Brew, Legion Brewing, Common Market, Pizza Peel and then looped back around toward Midwood Smokehouse. Diners looked up from their meals as I flew by, dogs stopped mid-pee to stare, and kids pointed and asked, “Mommy, what’s that?” It was awesome.
As instructed, I rode in bike lanes when available, but sometimes felt safer on the sidewalk. If you’re nervous about riding an electric scooter, I recommend practicing on a quiet, residential street or in an empty parking lot. Riding around in the Piedmont Middle School parking lot helped me gain confidence and made the experience more enjoyable, instead of terrifying.
I ended my ride by parking the scooter on the corner by my building and locking it with the app. Bird scooters are picked up every night, inspected for maintenance, charged and repositioned to where they are most wanted the next day. I knew that, but was still a little sad it wasn’t there when I woke up the next morning.
Oh well, I’m sure I’ll find another one soon.
For more information about electric scooters, visit www.bird.co or www.limebike.com/electric-scooter.