Electric scooter companies have a fraught relationship with just about every community they’ve launched in, and some critics of how they’re used have taken to vandalizing the dockless rides—a phenomenon captured in a wonderfully-reported story today by the Los Angeles Times.
If you haven’t been following the sudden rise of scooters across the U.S., the Times’ piece serves as a well-rounded explainer of what’s happening: why they abruptly appeared, why people like them, why people hate them. Why people are smearing poop on them.
Yet, mayhem directed at dockless scooters is the order of the day on Instagram’s “Bird Graveyard,” whose contributors relish publishing photos and videos of scooters that have been set aflame, tossed into canals, smeared with feces and snapped into pieces. The account has more than 24,000 followers.
What other kind of damage is being done? Some are set on fire, straight up have poop smeared on them, or are just chucked off buildings. And much of it is captured on that Instagram page, dedicated entirely to the death of e-scooters.
The vandalism could, in theory, lead to a criminal charge, but authorities have yet to escalate it to that level.
Per the Times:
The Los Angeles Police Department’s Pacific Division has received just one report of scooter vandalism that resulted in an arrest, but the case was rejected by the prosecutor. The Santa Monica Police Department said it hasn’t received any such reports.
Scooters are portrayed as an affordable, environmental-friendly way to tool around town and avoid the gridlock typically accustomed to urban cores. And the main companies involved are raising gobs of cash to bring them everywhere. Bird, for instance, recently hit a valuation of $2 billion.
Locals tend to air complaints about how the dockless model lets riders leave their scooter smack-dab in the middle of a sidewalk if they feel like. And the Times says others find it annoying that scooters “zip through and around traffic without obeying traffic signals.”
And so, some try to trash them.
Bird didn’t comment on how many scooters are vandalized to the Times, but competitor Lime said about 1 percent have been trashed nationwide.