E-scooters are becoming just as popular as local bike sharing programs, though the unique nature of e-scooters has led some states and local governments to ban or restrict the use of e-scooters in their areas. Fortunately, the potential for positive environmental impacts (e.g., reduced traffic congestion in urban areas, lower CO2 emissions) has convinced more and more politicians to pass legislation allowing the use of e-scooters (and even relaxing stringent regulations on e-scooters, as we recently witnessed in California and Texas).
If you live in one of the many cities/states where e-scooters are permitted, then how do you decide whether to use a Lime or Bird e-scooter? There are other e-scooter brands cropping up nowadays, but Lime and Bird were among the first innovators of e-scooter technology and expansion in the US, so let’s uncover which one is the best e-scooter for consumers who want to get to work more efficiently or simply want to have fun riding around town:
Lime vs Bird: Similarities
When it comes to pricing, Lime scooters and Bird scooters are virtually tied. Both charge $1 to unlock a scooter and $0.15-0.20 per minute for riding them. Anyone 18 years or older can ride them (as long as you have a valid driver’s license); the age requirements exist because minors are legally unable to consent to the user agreements Lime and Bird require of users and the necessity of sharing the road with automobiles and bikes means that riders must be able to demonstrate they are able to use their e-scooter responsibly.
Both Lime and Bird e-scooters can go a maximum of 15 mph (for a typical range of 15-20 miles before needing to be recharged). If you have easy and affordable access to electricity at home, then you could also make money while charging e-scooters overnight with Lime or Bird as well.
Lime vs Bird: Differences
There are few differences between these e-scooters, aside from minor promotional offers (e.g., Bird usually offers $5 promo codes, while Lime offers $3 promo codes in most areas). While Bird may seem more affordable to first-time users, it’s worth noting that Bird only operates in 21 states in the U.S. (75 cities, 17 university campuses total), while Lime operates in 27 states (103 cities, 34 university campuses total).
Any Alternative Scooters?
In addition to Bird and Lime, other (less prominent) e-scooter companies include Razor, Skip and Spin (Uber and Lyft have their own lines of e-scooters as well, but they have expanded to very few cities so far). Razor Share is owned by the long-established scooter company, Razor (which began selling personal e-scooters as far back as 2003), though it has few locations compared to Lime or Bird and it costs $1.15 to unlock an e-scooter (with $0.15/minute charge).
Skip is another young e-scooter company known for innovations such as cameras and locks, though it’s only available in the San Francisco, Portland (Oregon) and Washington D.C. areas at the moment.
Meanwhile, Spin e-scooters cost the same as Lime and Bird scooters, just without the widespread availability (also, Spin uses the same e-scooter technology as Bird).
E-Scooter Laws & Regulations
E-scooter laws vary from state to state, but there are a few noteworthy regulations (or lack of regulations) that are worth mentioning:
- As of January 1, 2019, e-scooter riders in California are no longer required to wear helmets
- In Texas, e-scooter riders may utilize bike lanes, public sidewalks, and streets that have 35mph (or slower) speed limits (as long as riders follow the same traffic laws required of bicyclists, such as using your arms to signal right or left-hand turns)
- E-scooters are presently banned in New York, though e-scooter companies and advocates believe the bans may be lifted soon, as New York Governor Andrew Cuomo recently proposed the possibility for local governments to decide what to do with e-scooters
- E-scooters are currently banned in Massachusetts, though several cities – such as Cambridge – are heavily lobbying for the state to let local governments decide whether to ban e-scooters
Since e-scooter laws vary not just by state, but also from city to city (or in the case of Austin, TX, they vary between city and university campus), it’s important to check your local DMV’s website for the most up-to-date information on e-scooter use and other requirements to ensure you don’t incur penalties while riding an e-scooter.
Which Scooter Should I Use?
When it comes to choosing an e-scooter, you might not be able to access anything but Lime or Bird for a while (at least until states/cities figure out how to balance the efficiency of e-scooters with concerns for public safety). In a few years, there will likely be much more competition among e-scooter companies if tech investments are any indication of this industry’s potential to grow.
For now, the best consumers can do is educate themselves and their communities on the benefits of e-scooters and advocate for change to decrease the financial and environmental costs of transportation by car.