Redditch launched its year-long electric scooter trial today, hand-in-hand (hand-in-wing?) with Bird.
It’s a significant launch for a few reasons. Firstly, Bird is the godfather of this burgeoning industry. If not the originator, certainly the Silicon Valley firm is responsible for publicising, popularising and pushing the concept and technology in the US and then Europe.
Redditch is the first (and, so far as we know, only) UK trial that the company has won to date, which must be a pretty bruising experience. We don’t know how many contracts Bird bid on, of course, but to be running behind not only its immediate competitors but rookies in the form of Ginger and Zwings must smart, particularly given that Bird has been running an electric scooter scheme at London’s Olympic Park since 2018. So Redditch is chance for the founding father to flex its muscles and show what it can bring to the party.
Secondly, Redditch is the hometown of Rachel Maclean, a member of parliament and the minister overseeing the introduction of the country’s electric scooter pilot programmes. This location will be close to her heart then. Bird will be under more intense scrutiny than perhaps any other operator to get things right, but it will also have a golden opportunity to showcase its achievements to those at the very top.
Thirdly, Redditch may push Bird on its tech development. The town’s citizens will be using a modified version the Bird One which, by its very name, gives away where it lives in the development cycle. If Bird is serious about supporting UK trials, shaping the narrative of how this transport mode will work in this country and winning a more significant piece of the British pie, the sleeping giant needs to awaken. Redditch will provide a clue about whether that has happened.