Have electronic scooters started to pop up in your town? You might have seen them parked on the sidewalk or buzzing around your neighborhood, or you might have heard about them on the news. Several companies have flooded the streets with these scooters, and anyone with a phone can walk up to one, pay a dollar, and ride away.
The biggest names in the on-demand e-scooter industry are Bird and Lime, but lately Uber and Lyft have entered the pack with their own scooter offerings. What are the differences between all of the scooter options, and which one is the best for riders?
A quick intro to Bird, Lime, Uber Scooter, and Lyft Scooter
Bird, Lime, Uber Scooter, and Lyft Scooter are companies that rent dockless electronic scooters. The scooters are typically placed in public areas around cities, and users rent one by walking up to the scooter and scanning a QR code on the scooter. Users for all 4 companies must be 18+ to ride.
Guide to the differences between Bird, Lime, Uber Scooter, and Lyft Scooter
|Cost||Availability||Minimum Age||Who Charges?|
|Bird||$1 to unlock, $0.15 - $0.20 per minute||21 states. Bird locations||18 with driver's license||Independent contractors|
$1 to unlock, $0.15 - $0.20 per minute
|27 states. Lime locations||18 with driver's license||Independent contractors|
|Uber Scooter||$1 to unlock, $0.15 per minute||Santa Monica CA||18 with driver's license||Uber employees|
|Lyft Scooter||$1 to unlock, $0.15 per minute||Santa Monica CA and Denver CO||18 with driver's license||Lyft employees|
Read more about e-scooters
Prices are nearly identical: $1 to unlock and ~$0.15 per minute
Bird, Lime, Uber Scooter, and Lyft Scooter all feature nearly the same pricing: $1 to start, and around $0.15 per minute. Some Bird and Lime markets tweak the price up to $0.20 per minute, and if Uber and Lyft scooter services spread to new cities it’s likely there will be slight price variation in certain markets. But overall, each scooter company generally charges the same price.
So far, none of the scooter companies have come out with a loyalty program, subscription service, or other alternative pricing model to distinguish themselves from competitors. For now, $1 to unlock and a few cents per minute seems to be the pricing model that works.
What about promo codes? Bird & Lime offer them
One pricing distinction is that Bird & Lime each offer promo codes that will give you a discount on your first scooter ride. Bird codes are typically good for $5, while Lime codes offer a $3 coupon. It’s not clear if Uber Scooter and Lyft Scooter offer referral codes that are unique to their scooter services.
You can find Bird & Lime promo codes online, with the best resource of active codes usually being on Reddit.
Availability is the biggest difference: Bird and Lime are in many cities, Uber and Lyft aren’t
Bird and Lime have raised hundreds of millions of dollars worth of venture capital money that have allowed them to quickly open service in markets all over the US. Bird is in 21 states and Lime is in 27 states. For now, that’s the biggest distinguishing factor among all of the scooter companies.
Rapid availability has lead to branding awareness: Bird is quickly becoming synonymous with electric scooter rentals, as is Lime. Uber Scooter and Lyft Scooter are only in one or two cities, so the vast majority of the US can’t try Uber & Lyft scooters and have no awareness at all that Lyft and Uber have entered the scooter game.
Rules and requirements rules are nearly identical
All of the e-scooter services require users to be 18 or older with a valid driver’s license. Each app prompts users to scan their license before taking a ride. Some users have discovered that the license-scanning feature of the apps are unreliable, allowing users to ride with expired IDs or non-driving identification.
Why is a method of transportation that’s traditionally been marketed toward children only available to adults with driver’s licenses? One major reason is that all users must accept a user agreement, and only adults have that capability. The other reason stated by some scooter companies is that users need to share the road with cars, so a driver’s license indicates that riders can use the scooter responsibly.
The scooters are similar, with minor feature differences
Although each company uses different scooters, from a user’s standpoint there aren’t many major differences between the scooters that makes one company stand above the rest. The basic features are the same: Top speed is around 15mph, and the range is 15 to 20 miles. Accelerate with a button or lever on the right, brake with a handle or button on the left.
Bird and Lime have released more advanced scooters that have smooth breaking, suspension systems, and lighting, but no one company features a scooter that is miles ahead of the competition.
You can get paid to charge scooters for Bird & Lime
Electronic scooters need to be recharged daily. Bird & Lime manage recharging by using a network of independent contractors who roam the streets each night to collect scooters and charge them in their own homes. Anyone can become a Bird or Lime charger, and chargers are typically paid $5 – $10 for each scooter they charge.
Uber and Lyft use company employees to charge scooters, so becoming a scooter charger for them isn’t as easy and accessible as becoming a Bird or Lime charger.
Which scooter wins?
You might have noticed a trend in this article: The 4 e-scooter companies are nearly identical in almost every category. From cost to requirements to scooter features, there’s very little to distinguish one scooter from another. But there is one category with enough differences to help declare a winner in the scooter competition: availability.
Bird and Lime are available in many cities and states in the US while Uber Scooter and Lyft Scooter are only in a handful. That alone is enough to declare Bird and Lime the winners. And if Bird and Lime both available in your town, grab whichever one is closest!