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Elad Kobi, 20.9.18

My first month with Bird in Tel Aviv

Scooter-sharing company Bird finally landed in Israel about a month ago, and after a month full of rides, I have a few words, good and bad, to say about it. Let's roll!

I just found my new toy.
At least that’s what I thought a month ago - and it’s called Bird.
Bird is a pay-as-you-go scooter rental startup, a global success, now making its first steps in Israel, or more accurately, at the center of it - Tel Aviv.
As a Tel-Avivian myself, I was excited to hear that we’re finally lining up with other cities and that Bird chose us a the testbed (and maybe a future home) for its scooters.

A bit before Bird got here two Chinese bike sharing companies tried their luck. First was Ofo, that realized after a short while that Israel was not right for them, and the second is Mobike, still rocking it. If that’s not enough, Lime (Bird’s competitor) just announced they are also coming to Israel. It’s going to get a bit crowded and messy, with all those bikes and scooters piling up in the streets of Tel Aviv.

So, after a month of taking out Bird for a ride in Tel Aviv, I have a few insights to share with you.

The Good Stuff

 

  • User Experience - Kudos to the designers
    I don’t know who’s in charge of the UI and UX of this app, but BRAVO! It took me about 20 seconds from the moment I saw a Bird scooter lying on the ground to create an account (including payment details) until I was able to ride it all the way to the cafe. Besides, the design is slick and intuitive. From the moment you open the app, you see a map of the area with the exact location of available scooters. Then, when you arrived at the spot and the scooter is there (more on that issue later), you just need to scan its QR code and voila - You’re ready to roll. Easy Peasy.

  • Price - Ooh La La
    As a huge fan of Gett (You know, our local version of Uber), and although I’m only a few points away from becoming a Caeser, you just cannot compete with Bird’s price when it comes to short rides in the city. Every scooter ride was about ⅓ price from a Taxi ride, and I could just put my headphones on while driving wherever I want, without worrying about the hobbies of my Gett driver. As a comparison: the same 2.25km ride cost me 9.50 NIS ($2.65) and took 9 minutes using Bird, while Gett ride cost 32.50 NIS ($9) and lasted 12 minutes. Pretty amazing. Oh, and let’s not forget about the air pollution that we’re saving.

  • Experience - Just drop it
    Just like Mobike, Ofo, and Lime, one of the best things about Bird is that you can leave it anywhere (But please don’t drop it on the road). Unlike Tel Aviv’s bike rental service, Tel-O-Fun, with its docking stations spread across the city. It’s convenient, but still pretty limiting and have you worrying and planning your ride beforehand. With Bird, you don’t need to worry about any sort of parking. Such a relieve for Tel Aviv.

Bird in Tel Aviv

A bird scooter waiting for me in Tel Aviv

The Bad Stuff

Well, you know, nobody’s perfect. Apart from the need to educate the users to drop the scooters in reasonable places, or not let their dog do it’s doodoo on it (I swear it happened), Bird needs to solve some internal issues and bugs.

  • Being unable to reserve a scooter
    When you browse the map, you sometimes realize that the nearest scooter is not that near, and you have to walk a bit to get it (First world problems), but the main issue is that you can’t “lock” it or reserve it for yourself until you finally make it. Imagine the situation, you’re rushing somewhere, you see a Bird just two streets away from you, and just when as you were thinking “Yay! I’m gonna make it”, somebody else snatched the bird 10 seconds before you arrived. I’m not saying users should be able to lock the scooters hours ahead, but just give me 30-60 seconds, and I’ll run like hell to grab it.

  • Midweek vs. Weekend
    At the middle of the week, you won’t find any troubles finding an available scooter, but as the weekend arrives, when there’s no public transportation in Tel Aviv, you’ll be lucky to find any. Maybe Bird is still testing it in Israel, but their next step should be adding more scooters.

  • Bad Connectivity
    That’s the worst bug I came across, and I’m not a QA person: Bad connectivity issue. I’m all like “YAY! I Found a scooter”, and suddenly after scanning the QR code, it looks like Scooter has issues connecting. If it’s offline, why is it on my map?

 

To sum things up I have to say - I loved it. Bird is A perfect solution for a city full of traffic and no parking like Tel-Aviv. It’s easy to use and incredibly cheap compared to my other options. Sure, they have some issues to work (even more than mentioned here), but I see the potential. Also, with Lime knocking on the door, they should hurry up and improve if they’re hoping to become the first and only scooter service in Tel Aviv.