What the rampant, often celebrated vandalism of Bird scooters says about Silicon Beach

Scooters are being burned, trashed, dismantled, buried at sea and even smeared with feces

(Credit from left: @birdgraveyard Instagram, U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Clayton Lenhardt)
(Credit from left: @birdgraveyard Instagram, U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Clayton Lenhardt)

No one likes change, especially when it arrives by electric scooter.

Bird scooters have become the symbol of tech companies’ arrival to the Southern California coastline known as Silicon Beach and the targets of residents’ wrath. Scooters are increasingly winding up broken, in flames, buried in the ocean or otherwise defiled in myriad different ways, as the Los Angeles Times reported. The various tactics for decommissioning the scooters, which were conceived by their maker, Bird, as a green way to beat the area’s deadlocked traffic, are being cataloged on an infamous local Instagram account, @birdgraveyard.

spotted by @coreyharper

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“They throw them everywhere: in the ocean, in the sand, in the trash can,” Venice Beach maintenance worker Robert Johnson Bey told the Times. “Sunday, I was finding kickstands everywhere. Looked like they were snapped off.”

Police say they receive almost no reports of vandalism despite officers witnessing incidents (for example, cops came across a 10-foot-high pile of the scooters) and say they have only made one arrest–and charges were eventually dropped. The scooters are estimated to cost about $1,000 based on comparable models sold online, so inflicted damages do qualify as a felony, but, as Duke University professor Dan Ariely told the Times, “if you wreck a Bird, no one in particular is getting hurt.” Except, perhaps, the company, which seems to be the point.

The rampant attacks on the scooters come less than a year after Bird launched its service last fall and as major tech companies plan to expand their offices in the area threatening an “explosion of vehicle traffic,” as The Real Deal reported. As the Times noted, the hostility toward Bird is reminiscent of the pellet-gun attacks on buses that carried Google and Apple employees to their offices. Even lawmakers, who are struggling to find new policies to address traffic in the area, are calling for the scooters to be banned. [LAT]Erin Hudson