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Bird’s new scooter delivery service could become a clever hack around city regulation

If Bird can’t leave its scooters anywhere, it can deliver a scooter to your home or office.

A woman riding an electric scooter
Bird rider in Venice Beach
Mario Tama / Getty
Shirin Ghaffary is a senior Vox correspondent covering the social media industry. Previously, Ghaffary worked at BuzzFeed News, the San Francisco Chronicle, and TechCrunch.

Scooter-sharing startup Bird announced a new program yesterday called Bird Delivery that will let users request a scooter to be delivered to their home or business. A Bird rep will drop the scooter off by 8 am, it will be reserved exclusively for that user and can be used throughout the day.

Ostensibly, this is designed to help build the habit of using a Bird scooter to commute every day, by guaranteeing there’s a scooter available at the right time and place, reserved for you. While inefficient and somewhat backward-seeming — someone is probably using a gas-burning car to drive an electric scooter to you! — it does sound convenient.

For now, Bird Delivery will only be available in cities where Bird already operates its dockless scooter-sharing service, where scooters are already strewn about a city, available for rental by users via its app. (Bird hasn’t released the cost of the new service.)

But in the future, as some are pointing out on Twitter, it could serve as a clever hack for the company to operate in cities where it hasn’t yet been approved — or specifically where it has been rejected from operating its existing scooter sharing service, like in San Francisco. (Like Uber and Lyft before them, the scooter startups have often used the “ask for forgiveness, not for permission” model of diplomacy — with mixed results.)

If Bird Delivery riders will be getting the scooters delivered to a specific address — and keeping them stowed in a private location, or perhaps locked up like a bike, or even just virtually locked — this could potentially be a convenient way of legally starting up business as more of a scooter “rental” service than a “sharing” service. We’ll see.

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