Is Bird’s Cruiser electric moped finally going to see the light of day soon? Signs point to “yes”, as clues in the company’s Android application reveal more details than we’ve ever seen before.
You’d be forgiven for forgetting that Bird’s Cruiser electric moped was even a thing.
The company announced the project earlier this summer and showed off a few renderings for a big PR splash.
But ever since it has been radio silence from the electric scooter sharing company.
The last time I tried to weasel something – anything – from Bird about the Cruiser electric moped project, a representative from the company’s Corporate Communications department gave me the super helpful answer, “No new news at the moment.”
So instead we’ve had to turn to amateur Twitter sleuth Alec Garcia, who dug up some interesting information from the bowels of the latest Bird application update on the Android platform.
He found a tutorial video demonstrating the proper way to operate the upcoming Bird Cruiser electric moped. And it shows more detail than we’ve ever seen before.
The @BirdRide Cruiser might be coming sooner than later because they just added the onboarding tutorial animations to the Android app which I extracted to make this video.@meganrosedickey @danielwcooper @Kyle_L_Wiggers @sokane1 @franticnews @MicahToll @shelbybrown91 pic.twitter.com/yPRreM06G9
— Alec Garcia (@CaliAlec) September 26, 2019
From the materials we can glean some new tidbits.
It looks like all Bird Cruisers will come with helmets supplied in a locking storage box on the rear of the bench seat. While we originally speculated that the Bird Cruiser could be a great option for transporting two people, it’s hard to imagine how two helmets will fit in that small cargo box – or how much room the box leaves for a passenger.
The new materials also show us that Bird intends for riders to treat the Cruisers more like sit down scooters than e-bikes or typical Bird scooters. That means riding in the road instead of the bike lane, as well as parking in on-street parking instead of on the sidewalk.
The app instructs Bird Cruiser riders accordingly:
“Stay alert and ride in the streets. Navigate traffic carefully and anticipate what others may do.”
When it comes to parking, it looks like the Bird Cruiser electric mopeds will come with a double center stand instead of a typical side stand, which should help keep the bikes upright. That might help stem criticism that has plagued Bird’s electric scooters regarding their tendency to wind up on their sides and blocking bike lanes or sidewalks.
While we don’t have a definitive release date for the Bird Cruisers yet, the update to the app seems to indicate that they are on their way. It has also been reported that the recently unveiled Juiced Scorpion electric moped was produced in a partnership with Bird, and thus could indicated that production of the Bird Cruiser is close – or perhaps has even already begun.
I think the Bird Cruiser electric moped will have some serious advantages over the standard Bird electric scooters.
The seated position and larger wheels are likely to feel much more comfortable and natural to riders, which should theoretically make the vehicles safer as well.
However, it’s likely that the speed of the Bird Cruiser will be faster than Bird’s electric scooters. My guess is that we’ll see a 20 mph (32 km/h) top speed. That’s the legal limit for Class 1 and 2 e-bikes in the US. And while this isn’t an electric bicycle, based on the foot pegs shown in the Bird App animation, they’ll likely be using nearly all e-bike components in the production of the e-moped. And if the speed of the Cruiser is faster than standard electric scooters, we could get into safety issues again. Though at least now there will be helmets provided with every vehicle, unlike standard Bird electric scooters that require users to proactively request a helmet from the company.
There’s another issue here though that I foresee: How well will cars share the road with these vehicles? Bike lanes are there specifically to provide some comfortable separation between cars and bicycles.
While the Bird Cruiser seems to be pitched as more of a Vespa-style electric scooter, it’s still very much in the bicycle form factor. I find that when I’m riding actual Vespa-style electric scooters, cars give me waaaay more space on the road than when I’m on an electric bicycle.
The reason for that is that whether drivers will admit it or not, most will either consciously or sub-consciously see bicycles in the lane as encroaching on car territory, while Vespa-style scooters are more often seen as legit motor vehicles that at least deserve a spot on the road.
So will cars share the road with Bird Cruisers the way they more or less do with motorcycles and scooters? Or will Bird Cruiser riders be taking their lives in their own hands each time they try to ride in the street?
Let us know what you think in the comments below!
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