The following letter was written by Bird Rides' founder Travis VanderZanden as part of the company's announcement of Rideshare 2.0
September 20, 2018
Transportation has always been a passion for me. My mother was a public bus driver for 30 years, and I remember riding along with her and watching people's daily commutes. Many years later, I worked as an executive in car ride-sharing - or what I like to think of as "Ridesharing 1.0" - where I witnessed the power of using technology to help move people conveniently around cities. I bought into the dream that Ridesharing 1.0 was helping solve transportation's biggest problems, and we did help reduce DUIs and some parking problems - traffic and carbon emissions - worse.
There had to be a better way. Could many of those short Rideshare 1.0 trips be completed with a vehicle that's environmentally friendly and doesn't add to our traffic problems? I thought so, and about a year ago today, we launched Bird to try to solve these problems with shared electric scooters. Yes, the idea seemed a little crazy (it still does to many). And, yes, most of my friends laughed at me.
Regardless, we went for it. We created Bird, and with it, Rideshare 2.0 - a cleaner, more convenient, affordable, car-reducing alternative to make cities more enjoyable. People around the world started "Birding." In just 12 months, we're currently available in more than 100 cities, and we just passed out 10 millionth ride. By comparison, Rideshare 1.0 did about 1 million rides its first year. I reference this stat not to beat the proverbial chest, but as proof that people are ready to get out of cars, do want a way to get around that doesn't contribute to climate change, and are ready to embrace alternative forms of transportation.
Now that the concept of shared e-scooters has proven to be popular, we are ready for our next phase. In our second year, we're doubling down on our efforts to collaborate and partner with cities so that they can knit e-scooters into their transportation infrastructure. We're expanding our focus on GovTech so we can continue to take the lead in creating technologies to help cities have insight and control of Bird in their city. What we are trying to do is create the unique systems, tech, and tools to make Rideshare 2.0 the most community-focused, people-friendly, car-reducing, and safest mobility solution.
We'll also continue to prioritize safety over growth. It's why we cap our vehicle speed at 15 mph, require a driver's license or ID for a rider to prove they are 18 or older, and pick up our vehicles at night time even if a city doesn't require it. It's why we are working with cities to put in more bike lanes and to find ways to mitigate the danger of cars to our riders. We think the entire industry should do the same. We've also given away over 50,000 helmets and established a Safety Advisory Board, led by former National Highway Traffic Safety Administration head, David Strickland.
We have a lot in store for the second year of Bird - and Ridesharing 2.0. But as we look to the months to come, I must thank our growing community of city partners, riders, chargers, mechanics, and employees who've helped us bring about this next phase in ridesharing. By being part of this new industry, you have helped countless people and cities all over the globe start the transformation of urban transportation into one that is clean, convenient, and affordable.
The transition away from the car addiction will not be easy, and we'll all need to work together to achieve a better transportation future. We appreciate all your help and support along the way!
Travis VanderZanden, Founder at Bird