- Mobility company Bird is making its first foray into the non-scooter space with the introduction of Bird Cruiser, a seated, electric vehicle that resembles a small motorbike.
- The e-bike seats up to two passengers and will come in two versions: pedal assist or completely motorized. The vehicle boasts a padded seat, 20-inch wheels, hydraulic disc brakes, an LCD screen and a 52-volt battery.
- The Bird Cruiser will be released in select, unnamed test markets this summer before a wider release. Bird has not specified the vehicles' top speed or how much a ride will cost.
The Cruiser will advance Bird's long-standing goal of getting people out of vehicles and onto more energy-efficient, lower-emission mobility options. The new vehicle essentially is an e-bike or moped, depending on the model. The concept is not completely new, but the Cruiser is unique in its design that accommodates up to two people.
Carrying two people boosts convenience for the riders and could further cut energy consumption by potentially combining what would have been two trips on separate mobility devices. But it also could increase safety risks as it changes a driver's balance and the rear passenger has no control over vehicle operations. Bird has not released special considerations for Cruiser riders beyond its existing safety protocol. Safety measures include requiring all riders to be 18 or older and to complete in-app safety training, and encouraging helmet use.
The Cruiser appears to address some longstanding issues with e-scooters. It's more robust than a scooter and better protects riders from traffic. It also appears to be more durable, which could provide Bird with long-term savings due to fewer maintenance and replacement costs. A seated vehicle also increases rider comfort and opens up vehicle use to populations that have difficulty standing on an e-scooter. Accommodating people with mobility restrictions makes the Cruiser a more equitable vehicle.
The rise in dockless bike and scooter popularity has forced cities to grapple with the problem of clutter when customers improperly park the vehicles or they tip and block the right of way. Bird indicates the Cruisers should be parked in bike racks or the furniture zone between the curb and sidewalk where bikes are allowed if they're not impeding the right of way.
San Diego and Los Angeles are among the growing number of cities trying out e-scooter parking zones. Solar-powered e-scooter docking stations will be tested this summer in Ann Arbor, MI and Washington, DC. Thus far it's unclear how or if cities — or Bird — would enforce parking for the Cruisers.