Every community presents its own unique needs, opportunities and challenges when it comes to mobility. Towns and cities in the UK are no different.
On October 1st, Bird had the honour to launch our first at-scale UK scooter operations in Redditch. Because shared e-scooters are a new phenomenon to most Brits, education has been critically important in these first weeks—both for the general public and for our team.
We engaged with a host of community groups in Redditch prior to launch, including transportation providers, schools, businesses, local residents and council officers. During meetings with local police and the Redditch Blind Association, we received feedback that resulted in us adding more reflective material to our vehicles to increase scooter visibility. We were happy to oblige, and we’re carrying this valuable feedback over into discussions with the city of Canterbury in preparation for our second UK launch next month.
Strong local partnerships will be essential to successful e-scooter pilots throughout the UK and beyond. These conversations have already informed changes to our operational approach, speed and geofence zones as well. Similarly, multiple years of experience and technology are critical to ensuring that the rules governing these micromobility programs are not only understood, but respected.
In July we wrote about the UK’s very real opportunity to be a global leader on e-scooter parking using proven strategies like dedicated parking nests, in-app education and community feedback. This is one part of the solution, but we know that there are others as well.
Among the many steps we’re taking as an organization to ensure the success of our UK pilots, verifying that riders are legally old enough to ride and adhere to no-riding zones are of paramount importance.
Advanced Driving Licence Scanning
We know that age verification is essential to both the safety of e-scooter riders as well as the success of micromobility operations as a whole. That’s why Bird has developed—and continues to refine—advanced in-app scanning technology for just this purpose.
Our User Agreement instructs all new UK riders to scan a valid provisional or full driving licence before unlocking their first scooter. In addition, Bird’s internal processes help prevent illegal use or fraud, including instances of multiple accounts tied to the same licence.
Education also has an important role to play in the age-verification process. By engaging local secondary schools in Redditch and future UK towns and cities, we’re able to provide tailored instructional materials for teachers, students and parents on the risks and consequences of underage riding.
Bird’s engineering team has developed and applied advanced geofence technology to help UK cities combat pavement riding and other similar behaviors. Bird vehicles transmit geolocation data as often as once every second, which allows us to safely slow down and stop riders automatically when they’ve entered restricted areas.
By working together with Council members in Redditch to identify and incorporate no-ride zones into the Bird map, we’re enabling and encouraging proper behavior from the very first e-scooter ride.
If our experience serving more than 100 cities and towns around the world has taught us anything, it’s that successful micromobility programs start with trust and cooperation. Bird is committed to using these lessons, as well as the knowledge and technology at our disposal, to help build on that foundation and bring responsible e-scooter operations to all of our partner cities across the UK.