Bird Hunters Return Scooters

Mel’s job is to return the “Birds” to their “nest.”

Dockless Scooters in Pacific Palisades

Residents have started to see abandoned Bird and Lime electric scooters left on Pacific Palisades streets.

One resident who saw a scooter parked on the sidewalk noticed that the scooter was gone when she returned on her walk. Did that mean that another rider saw the scooter and took it to a new location?

Maybe not. I ran into a man on the corner of Temescal Canyon Road and Bowdoin Street, who was stacking six scooters, one on top of one another. When I asked what he was doing, he said “I’m Mel, I’m the scooter man, I’m going to drop these off at the nest in Santa Monica.” When I asked him how, he told me he rides them back.

He said he was looking for garage space because he was losing the one he had been using.

Mel needs to plug in the scooters (it costs about a seven to 20 cents per scooter to charge one) and he would pay $1 per scooter, so if anyone in Pacific Palisades has a one-car garage space where he could charge the scooters and store them, Mel estimated that the person could make about $300 a month. (His number is 323-618-8044). He said he’s doing this job “to stay out of homelessness.” He then hopped onto the stacked scooters and he rode off.

According to a May 2018 article in the Atlantic (theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2018/05/charging-electric-scooters-is-a-cutthroat-business/560747/), “bird hunters” or “chargers” have become a popular way for high-schoolers, college students and other young professionals to earn money.

The story noted, “But while Bird hunting is fun and games for some, other chargers take the job much more seriously. Charging in some cities, like San Diego, has become a cutthroat competition between workers where every last dollar counts.”

Los Angeles passed a pilot program for the dockless scooters on September 4. Scooters, often identified as part of a micro-mobility system, cost $1 to rent and 15 cents per minute to ride. In order to ride one, you must download an app.

Scooter riders must be 18 years or older and have a valid driver’s license. Under the L.A. City Council pilot program, an annual permit for companies, such as Bird or Lime, will cost $20,000 annually and each vehicle must be licensed ($130 a year, or $39 in low-income areas).

The top allowable speed for scooters in L.A. is 15 m.p.h. California law prohibits riding the electric scooters on the sidewalk and Santa Monica has banned them from the bike path along the ocean.

Mel, the “scooter man” rides a group of Birds to Santa Monica.

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4 Responses to Bird Hunters Return Scooters

  1. Diane Bleak says:

    Hilarious

  2. Tom Meade says:

    Like your coda, Sue. . . : – )

  3. Thom Collins says:

    We found a Bird scooter abandoned on the parkway in front of our house last week. No one has come by to claim it since. Do you have a contact number for someone at the local Bird franchise who can come by and retrieve their property, or do we just call Mel?

    • Sue says:

      I don’t have a number for the local Bird franchise, but try calling your Pacific Palisade Community Council Representative and see if they can aid you–at the least they need to let the City know about the local problems we may be having with them.

      Sue

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