A recent development on the streets of Washington D.C. has been the emergence of the electric scooter as a means for both students and workers to get from point A to point B. Once a novelty that would turn heads around our capital city, electric scooters are near ubiquitous and can be rented cheaply using an app on the user’s smartphone. While I will admit that I have been annoyed on occasion by scooter riders that travel too fast on sidewalks around our fair city, I also admit that I think the technology is really cool and the scooters look like a lot of fun to ride. It was recently revealed that Bird, one of the major players in the app-enabled electric scooter game will be adding electric mopeds to its repertoire as early as this summer.

Unlike its predecessors, Bird’s newest electric vehicle for rent will have a seat and is meant to be utilized much like a bicycle. The vehicle, called the “Cruiser” will also have pedals, but riders will also have an all-electric option which will enable them to ride with their feet firmly planted on pegs. The vehicle will be powered by a 52 volt battery and will be able to achieve up to 50 miles of travel per charge. The “Cruiser” will also have a comfy padded seat, disc brakes for safety, and an LCD screen that will display information about remaining battery life.

While costs to the customer per ride for the new vehicle have not been revealed, Bird has done an excellent job of keeping costs for their fleet of electric scooters to a minimum. There is no reason to suspect that this will not be the case for their new fleet of electric mopeds. The decision by Bird to expand their line of electric vehicles for rent has resulted in some additional developments as well. In May of this year, the company introduced a new and improved electric scooter designed to be much more resilient than previous models. Bird has also announced that they will begin selling these new electric scooters directly to customers for as little as $1,299. While Bird’s current business model is impressive, the company has thus far failed to turn a profit as of the date of this writing.

Safety is a huge concern for anyone utilizing small electric vehicles in urban environments. In September of 2018, the world saw its first electric scooter death right here in Washington D.C. when a young man riding an electric scooter belonging to the startup Lime collided with a vehicle near Dupont Circle. This tragedy raised serious questions about the safety of these vehicles and if more regulation of them should be required. Bird recommends that riders of any of their vehicles wear safety equipment to include at minimum a helmet. Bird has also designed their vehicles to include a governor which caps their top speeds to 30 miles per hour.

While you probably won’t find me hopping onto a “Cruiser” anytime in the near future, I would love to hear your thoughts on this new product. Have you used any small electric vehicle rental apps in the past and have a story to share? Please leave a comment below and tell us about your experience.

Source | Images: Bird