The new business model may reduce how many scooters are left sitting around on sidewalks.
The electric scooter company Bird just unveiled a new subscription service: instead of hunting for an available unit and paying to activate it, customers can pay a monthly fee to get access to their own scooter for a full month.
The new subscription service, currently available only in San Francisco and Barcelona, may have originated as a workaround to San Francisco's August ruling that prohibits Bird from operating in the city, as it shifts the company from a prohibited scooter sharing service to a concierge service, according to The Verge.
The shift to a monthly subscription also stands to make rentals more convenient, The Verge reports, perhaps to the point of competing with ride-hailing apps like Uber or Lyft.
I'm Walking Here!
Even if the new service originated as a way to exploit a legal loophole, it stands to benefit pedestrians. Renting out scooters instead of charging people by the minute could mean that fewer scooters get left haphazardly blocking sidewalks and streets.
If so, Bird's new service could effectively eliminate the public nuisance that these scooter companies created. Not only would that mean fewer scooters abandoned in public, but people would also be incentivized to store their personally-rented scooters at their homes, where they'd be less vulnerable to hackers than if they were left out on the street.
READ MORE: You can now rent a Bird electric scooter for $25 a month [The Verge]
More on scooters: Scooters Are Definitely Not the Future of Transportation