The Bird is the word

A cranky old lady yelled at me from the front porch of her house the first time I rode a Bird scooter.

“You’re not supposed to be riding on the sidewalks!” she yelled. 

“Sorry!” I yelled back gleefully.

The apology was a reflex, the glee hard to contain.

At 58-years old, I really should be the old lady on the porch shaking my fist at neighborhood punks.

How fun to find myself the punk!

I’m not much of a punk, though. The truth is, depending on city ordinances, you are allowed to ride Birds on the sidewalks, except in areas specifically designated no ride zones. In Appleton, Bird riders can use most of the sidewalks, despite what the stickers on the vehicles say.

I downloaded the Bird app when I saw them flocking to the corner across the street from my house. But it took a couple of days for me to find the time and the inclination to use one.

That opportunity came this past Saturday while I was visiting a skate park in Shawano. I kept looking at the Bird scooters nesting there and thinking I’d never find a more perfect time to hop on.

So, I did and, well, now I’m hooked.

I love that the company’s visionary founder, Travis VanderZanden is a hometown boy who graduated from Appleton North in 1997. And that his single mother worked as a bus driver for Valley Transit and occasionally brought him along for the ride.

I find the technology fascinating. Apparently, each scooter has a “bird brain” that connects it to the company’s software and allows employees to monitor its location, lock and unlock the wheels and motor and, if necessary, operate the throttle remotely.

Yesterday, I was zooming toward Erb Park when my Bird started beeping. “Ooops…you’ve entered a Slow Zone,” the warning read and my Bird slooowed waaaay down. I like the built in safety features and the way the company has adjusted the bike settings in the five years they’ve been on the road.

 The company’s mission, to help build “vibrant communities that have less traffic, cleaner air and safer streets” also appeals to me.

I have considered birding to work each day, but I lug a laptop and riders are discouraged from carrying things while on board the Bird.

I do intend to hop on for periodic errands like trips to my mom’s house or out to dinner. I’m also glad the Bird option is now available to me when I lose track of time on my walks and need to get home in a hurry.

I’m not punky enough to flip cranky porch sitters the bird as I zoom past, but I am genuinely excited to ride the bird whenever I can this summer.

My neighbor Sharon snapped this shot of me yesterday as a tooled around the neighborhood.
Here’s my #birdhelmetselfie. Riders who post a selfie of them wearing a helmet after their ride get safety rewards like future ride credits.
This is me in the parking lot of the Shawano skate park. I should be wearing a helmet, but I was not prepared to ride. I mostly stayed in the parking lot.
I may or may not have been racing my friend on the bike here. This picture makes me laugh because I look so serious. We’re very competitive in this neck of the woods. (Bird warns its riders not to race. I read that after my maiden voyage.)
I think it’s really cool that this Bird Nest is located right at the middle school the company founder attended. I think every student who walks past those scooters should know that the founder of a $2.3 billion company went to the same school they do.
I received this message in response to an email I sent after my first ride. I had not realized one of the Birds I had scanned was in operation, and so I was billed for that time. You have to click “end my ride” after each outing or the scooter will continue to charge you. It was my mistake but I emailed anyway, explained the situation and wondered if I’d ever hear back. Guess what? I did! On a Sunday, exactly 34 minutes after I inquired. They credited my account that day. How’s that for customer service?!

4 thoughts on “The Bird is the word

  1. Laura you look like a pro on that Bird! You give me courage to try it. I’ve always admired the the story behind these fun rides!

  2. I want to take a spin with you!! Might have to do a balance check first though!! 😂

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