There are two new forms of transportation around downtown Indianapolis, with the possibility of more on the horizon! Bird and Lime, two companies that have launched their dockless electric scooter rental service in Indianapolis in the past few weeks, are offering Hoosiers an innovative solution to “first mile-last mile” transportation. The electric scooter trend has every major city buzzing, and don’t expect that to go away anytime soon: Bird has gained an estimated valuation of $2 billion in less than a year and Google’s subsidiary, Alphabet, just invested $300 million in Lime. There are currently around 12 different scooter companies vying for personal mobility market share in other cities, so Indianapolis could expect the entrance of a few more before year’s end.
“I think it’s important that as a city we embrace new technology,” Hogsett said. “Personal mobility is a very important aspect of what we try to accomplish on behalf of the residents of our city, so I want that to be established at the outset.”
The shared mobility model of the electric scooters enables a flexibility in personal mobility in situations where public transportation is lacking. Just as companies like Uber and Lyft ushered in a revolution for mobility-as-a-service and a decrease in dependency on personal vehicle ownership, scooter rentals are again changing the game. Despite some negative reactions in other cities, like Miami and Nashville, Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett’s administration has attempted to embrace scooter rental services, while at the same time seeking their cooperation as safety measures and business practices are reviewed. In an effort to ease the transition and help build public infrastructure, Bird gives Indianapolis a dollar per day for each scooter in operation. Both companies have been open to working with city officials to create regulations that best fit the needs of consumers without causing too much disruption to law enforcement and city employees.
While fun and convenient, Bird and Lime scooters also offer environmental and economic benefits to the cities in which they operate. They provide an alternative to cars for distances that are too far to walk, lowering the overall use and emissions of vehicles. The scooters operate on a dockless system and can be dropped off anywhere, eliminating additional transit time from a drop-off station to a user’s final destination. The low cost of renting, $1 to unlock the scooter and an additional $0.15 per minute of use, allows for budget-friendly transportation alternatives. Consumers also have the option to become “chargers” and bring scooters to a central location to charge the scooters every night, with earning potential over $100 per night.
If you are interested in utilizing the new service, below are instructions on how to get started with Bird and Lime scooter rentals!
- Download the app, Bird or Lime, both available on both iOS and Android.
- Locate a scooter using the GPS map. Once you’ve found a scooter, click “Ride” and scan the QR code or type in scooter code by clicking “<>”.
- Follow sign up instructions, which include scanning your driver’s license (only Bird requires this), inputting payment, and accepting rules and conditions.
- Once account setup is complete, you can “Unlock” the scooter. Using one foot, kick off three times then use your right thumb to press down on the throttle.
- Be careful! It only takes a few seconds to adjust, however be sure to not push the power lever all the way down when taking off.
- Both Bird and Lime recommend users to avoid sidewalks, and Indianapolis laws require all motorized vehicles to be operated on bike paths and roads. Do not plan to ride a scooter on the Monon or walking paths; instead, plan alternative routes.
- Scooters may be dropped off anywhere but be courteous! Make sure it is against a building or bike racks, not in the center of a walkway or doorway.
- Don’t attempt to ride the electric scooters while carrying items; you’ll need both hands to properly operate your rental.
- Don’t forget to “Lock” your scooter and end your ride. Bird requires users to take a photo of where they lock the scooter, creating accountability for them to be left in a safe place for pedestrians and other vehicles.
- Although helmets are not required by law in Indianapolis, Bird has a free helmet program to promote safe riding habits. After your first ride, request a free helmet through the Bird app and they will mail it to your requested address.