Not so long ago, electric stand-up scooters started popping up all over urban centers throughout the US, introducing an efficient and convenient way to get around in a severely congested city. This summer, Bird, one of the companies responsible for the stand-up scooter incursion, will offer a sit-down option that's capable of rolling two-up called the Bird Cruiser.

“Bird’s introduction of shared e-scooters spurred a global phenomenon and mode shift away from cars,” said Travis VanderZanden, founder and CEO of Bird. “To further accelerate progress on our mission to make cities more livable, we are providing additional environmentally friendly micro-mobility alternatives—including Bird Cruiser. Starting this summer, people can move about their city and explore new neighborhoods together, without a car. Designed and engineered in California, Bird Cruiser is an inclusive electric-powered option that is approachable, easy-to-ride and comfortable on rough roads.”

Since the tech specs are spare and the machine itself is somewhat simple, I thought it might be fun to parse out some of the hip-guy speak from VanderZanden’s quote to muse on what the Bird Cruiser is all about.

“Mode shift away from cars.” Cars are analog, bro.

From a motorcyclist’s perspective, this is a very good thing. Cars have long isolated us from the outside world, from other motorists, taken up far too much space and made parking in highly populated places a nightmare. More two-wheeled vehicles on the road the better. And the Bird Cruiser goes a long way to teach non-riders about the joy of riding. The more people get used to using a throttle to go and hydraulic disc brakes to stop, the more likely it is for them to leave behind any lingering prejudice they may hold about riding a motorcycle. I’m a glass-is-half-full kind of guy here.

“Micro-mobility alternatives.” An itty-bitty thing that isn’t a car that will still get you somewhere.

Bird Cruiser on white background.
Expect to see these ripping around select cities this summer.Bird

People still need to get from point A to point B, but the means of achieving that goal can, and should, vary widely. The Bird Cruiser is small enough for pedal-assist to be an option, and only requires a 52-volt battery that is said to maintain steady pull up hills. Bird doesn’t give a top speed, but don’t expect to get much past 15 mph. That also allows this machine to be novel, and cute. People are going to be intrigued by the Bird Cruiser, they’re going to get on it ironically at first, laughing at themselves before their friends can laugh at them. But then they’re going to go, and it’s going to be a lot of fun. It facilitates the “mode shift.”

“People can move about their city and explore new neighborhoods, together.” We’re too isolated and too reluctant to take advantage of all the cool s—t in a massive city because getting there sucks.

Bird claims the Cruiser’s comfy seat can support two-up riding, so is positioning the bike as a means of communion. Even if it sounds a little saccharine to my jaded, cynical ear, I am in full support of people connecting, doing new things, and getting off their phones. If the Bird Cruiser does indeed facilitate that, count me among its supporters.

“Inclusive electric-powered option.” Don’t be afraid, he’s just a little guy. Plus, he’s good for the environment.

For some reason, The Youngbloods’ “Get Together” starts to play in my head when I read this line. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Especially the electric-powered part. I will be sad if the day ever comes that there are no gas-powered bikes to be found on the roads, don’t get me wrong, but one of the amazing things about this country is our track-record of creating world-changing technology. I’m also very happy living on this planet in its current state, so anything that helps keep it that way is alright in my book.

What’s concerning, though, is a bunch of green riders feeling invincible on city streets, feeling too competent too soon without a bit of the situational awareness you need when you’re riding, with a friend or friend-with-benefits hanging on the back blissfully trusting in the competence of the person they’ve bound their fate to, without a helmet. Even at 15 mph, a wreck can hurt, especially if you’re too close to one of those massive four-wheeled buggies still pestering the surface streets of every single city in the world.

My hope is that the good will outweigh the bad though, and that things like this take off. That this mode shift to alternative, inclusive electric-powered options really does allow people to move about their respective cities and explore new neighborhoods, helping spur a new way of thinking about our relationship to our means of transport.