Picture this: you’re walking to a class starting in 15 minutes and you’re a half-hour walk away. Sound familiar? Whether you rely on electric scooters to avoid the dreaded late arrival to lecture or because you need to make the trek from your apartment side to Hilgard, most Bruins often find themselves needing to rely on electric scooters. The problem is, between Bird, Lime, Lyft and LINK, it can be easy to be overwhelmed with your choices. So is there really any difference, and does one option stand out among the others?
$1 unlock fee, $0.25/minute
Everyone knows that you can’t get far in Westwood without tripping over a Bird scooter. The company, who named its product the “world’s most eco-conscious scooter,” has mass-produced its scooters in most major American and European cities.
Availability — If you know you need to Bird, you won’t have to look far. They can be found on every block.
Features — If you’re planning ahead, Birds can be reserved up to 30 minutes ahead of time. Furthermore, the user-friendly interface allows you to open the app and be riding in seconds.
Cost function – When paying for a scooter ride with the Bird app, the user is forced to preload a set amount of money into their account (usually $5). This process essentially makes every ride $5, because every time you want to ride, you must preload the money. It is rare that a ride will cost low enough that an existing preloaded $5 will cover it – rather, the cost of a ride will usually just go over the preexisting funds in your account, causing another $5 to be charged.
$1 unlock fee, $0.15/minute
One of the original electric scooter companies, Lime is considered a classic. But is it the best option for a Bruin? Limes are the most mediocre option. They don’t stand out from the others in many ways but are a good option in a pinch!
Cost — Relative to the other scooters, Limes are easily the most cost-effective option at $0.15 per minute, as compared to Bird’s $0.25, Lyft’s $0.39 and LINK’s $0.39.
Safety concerns – Concerning reports of Lime scooters braking abruptly and resulting in rider injury suggest they might pose a greater threat to safety than alternative options.
$1 unlock fee, $0.39/minute
This rideshare company introduced its scooters just over three years ago, and it has exploded since. Look for the bright pink logo and you’ll be good to go.
Application — Because of Lyft’s car service, most people already have the Lyft app downloaded. When Lyft scooters are available in the area, the app automatically recognizes this and allows them to be unlocked by the user. Realistically, since most people use electric scooters in the interest of time efficiency, this often makes the Lyft option the most practical.
Availability — Lyft scooters can be hard to find. Unlike Bird, they will not necessarily be on every block, so you might have to walk for a couple of minutes to find one.
Cost — At $0.39 per minute, Lyft scooters are slightly more expensive than alternative options. A 10-minute ride — typical for a UCLA student — would cost almost $5, whereas a ride of the same length with a Lime would be $2.50 — half the price! While not a huge difference for a single ride, it’s something to consider if using scooters regularly.
$1 to unlock, $0.39/minute
The newest contender in Westwood’s electric scooter market, LINKs were only introduced last year. So what makes them different?
Safety features — Everyone that has ridden a scooter in Westwood knows that the brakes, no matter the brand, could use some work — until now. LINK has engineered its scooters’ brakes to work 37% faster than those of its competitors.
Ride — Given that it’s practically a UCLA rite of passage to narrowly avoid a 6-inch-deep pothole while zooming up Landfair, the quality of Westwood’s streets doesn’t need much of an explanation. Long story short, LINK scooters’ engineered ability to handle 10 times the bumps is a welcomed feature.
Environmentally friendly — LINK scooters market themselves as 100% carbon neutral. For a highly environmentally-aware campus, this might make LINK stand out to some students.
Cost – Like Lime, LINK scooters stand out as one of the most expensive scooters.
So what does this mean for UCLA students? If you’re looking for sheer efficiency, Lyft or Bird is probably your best bet with their ease of access and user-friendliness. If you’re new to riding scooters or are just looking for something a little newer and easier to ride, LINK is the safest option. Safe riding, Bruins!