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Students report concerns with Bird scooters following app update

A Bird scooter on the UCLA campus is pictured. Students expressed concerns about about Bird app glitches and difficulties with parking scooters. (Daily Bruin file photo)

By Dora Gao and Wendy (Pui Wan) Chong

Jan. 21, 2024 10:35 p.m.

Students expressed concerns with Bird electric scooters and the difficulties parking them.

The implementation of new parking zones in September by Bird has led to some challenges: While these zones aim to organize scooter parking, users are experiencing glitches with the app – particularly when trying to photograph and confirm their parking location. The users added that these issues resulted in the app not functioning as intended.

According to the Bird website, preferred parking zones have been implemented as a mandatory requirement primarily to comply with local municipalities. Bird did not respond in time to requests for comment.

According to the UCLA Transportation website, UCLA has a contract with Bird to provide scooters to the campus community. The page also says scooters can access campus roads and park in appropriate areas.

In an emailed statement, a UCLA Transportation spokesperson said their staff conducts regular check-in calls with outside companies within the micro-mobility program to address any issues.

They also mentioned that the community can share their concerns when needed. With the amount of hills across campus, many UCLA students have resorted to using electric scooters for faster transportation. Some UCLA students said Bird scooters allow for convenience and efficiency, saving time when riding across campus.

Nikhil Parikh, a fourth-year mathematics of computation and mechanical engineering student, said Bird scooters help him get to class a lot faster.

“I live in the Palo Verde, Laurel (and) Tipuana area off campus, so sometimes walking to class, I can find myself being late,” Parikh said. “(When using a scooter) I can get to class in five minutes versus 20.”

In the emailed statement, UCLA Transportation said the Bird scooters altered campus transportation dynamics.

“Typically, people don’t simply adhere to one mode of transportation to get around campus, with modal switching common between walking and riding an e-scooter,” UCLA Transportation said in the statement.

They also said there is a correlation between scooter use and decreased on-campus ride-hail trips.

“Scooter use by UCLA Housing resident students on the Hill was correlated with a small reduction in on-campus ride-hail trips,” UCLA Transportation said in the emailed statement. “Any Uber or Lyft trip from the residential halls to the east campus classrooms that is replaced with a scooter trip is a win.”

However, since the recent update made to the Bird mobile app, students shared concerns about issues with parking, including app glitches and new policies that have made it hard for students to park in places they could have parked before.

“It’s difficult because you have to return it to a specific parking space,” Samantha Waugh, a first-year business economics student, said. “Sometimes the app glitches at random parking spots, and I have to scan my area.”

In response to student concerns, UCLA Transportation said in the statement that they have not received any direct feedback from students about app glitches and issues with recognizing parking locations.

In the statement, the spokesperson said they encourage students to share their concerns with UCLA Transportation, while Bird users can report app issues through the Bird app or by emailing the company.

Concerning safety measures and compliance, UCLA Transportation said they report issues to Bird based on need, such as when scooters are blocking crosswalks or impeding access to routes for campus operations.

However, some students have said they experienced no issues with new policies or app glitches.

Gavin Foote, a fourth-year electrical engineering student, said even after recent updates, they have not faced problems parking their scooters.

“I’ve never had an issue parking a Bird scooter,” he said.

Achal Singh, a second-year mathematics of computation student, said that although he doesn’t have an issue with parking Bird scooters, he knows that other students do. He added that he has always parked Bird scooters where they belong.

Waugh also said Bird can improve the issues with parking by adding more designated parking areas.

“Just increase the amount of bird scooter parking spots to improve parking convenience in areas that don’t have as much parking,” Waugh said.

 

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