There is an Instagram account dedicated solely to the wanton destruction of e-scooters … This is why we can’t have nice things.
If you live in a medium-to-large-size city, you’re probably more than aware of e-scooters, like those from brands Bird or Lime. And if e-scooters have been in your home metropolis for more than just a few days, you’ve probably also seen one or two in various states of disrepair. By that I mean, you’ve probably witnessed a couple disfigured e-scooters left for proverbial dead.
Don’t worry, though. This sight isn’t specific to your city; it’s a rather common occurrence across the country. In fact, it’s so common — and so many people revel in the destruction of e-scooters — that an entire Instagram profile committed to re-sharing misused, damaged, or downright destroyed e-scooters has been created. It’s called Bird Grave Yard. At the time of this writing, it has 91,400 followers.
The e-scooter craze came out of seemingly nowhere. Bird, the first e-scooter brand, was founded in 2017 by a former Uber executive. Within months, Bird had pushed its shared, electrically-powered scooters across the country to most major cities — often without consulting them.
Overnight, major metropolitan areas were cluttered with the little electric cruisers, as other startups jumped on the bandwagon. Within months, sidewalks across the U.S. were choked with the devices, ostensibly aimed to solve the first-mile-last-mile mobility dilemma.
Misuse of — and a disliking for those who ride — e-scooters has prompted some to not only disable but also annihilate e-scooters and proudly share the results on social media. It’s almost become its own culture war microcosm.
“Smashing scooters is just funny,” Bird Grave Yard account admins said to Vice in a written interview. “It’s amusing when people come to the page and do not get why it’s funny. If you can’t laugh at a rideshare scooter being lit on fire at a house party, that’s a problem with you.”
People are lashing out at not only the e-scooter companies, who are accused of having little regard for local regulations or whether the residents of a given city even wants their streets flooded with e-scooters. At the same time, from where I sit, it seems these e-scooter-destroying vigilantes are also battling against those who do use (or misuse) the e-scooters.
“I mean you get these d*****bags who show up at the skatepark with these Birds,” Sinan, a 25-year-old artist and bike messenger in Atlanta told Vice. “They’re just counterproductive to public transit, and they’re not being used for the right reasons by the right people.”
This is what happens, though, when companies run roughshod over regulations and demonstrate a disregard for public opinion. It can be interpreted by some that these brands feel like they know what’s better for us than we do. And it’s not wholly unsurprising when some reflect that disregard back at the brands.
“Vandalism of all types of property is a problem that should not be tolerated by communities or local law enforcement,” a Bird representative wrote to Vice in a prepared statement. “We do not support the vandalism or destruction of any property and are disappointed when it takes place. Nor do we support the encouragement, celebration or normalization of this behavior.”
Thing is, though, these sort of tactics will work. It will lead e-scooter companies to allocate fewer scooters to the cities that destroy their property. As a result, progress is slowed and the people who really need access to these sort of inexpensive and easy-to-use mobility solutions lose out. And I don’t mean the jerks who take e-scooters to skateparks.
“I think it sucks when people break stuff that could be useful to all of us, ” said Andy Didorosi, founder of Play Free Bird, and organization that works to bring e-scooters to underserved communities. “If we were a little less publicly destructive, we could have nicer things.”