One of my favourite things about Zurich is the ease in which you can get about, by bike, public transport or on foot. But there is a new game in town in terms of transportation. I’m talking of course about the, now ubiquitous, rental e-scooters.
There are three main players in the market at the moment, Circ, Bird and Tier and although Lime are still listing Zurich as a location, they do not have any available scooters.
The first scooter i tried was Circ. The setup was quick but you had to manually enter the card number to get the thing going. The scooter felt solid and although it took me a few tries to get it going (you have to push off before it will start) it felt safe. Unlike Tier and Bird the scooter had a mobile phone holder which is a pretty useful addition, and slightly bizarrely, a cup holder. I say bizarrely because i really didn’t want to take my hands of the thing. At the end of the journey the app prompted me to take a photo of my ride to make sure it was parked safely.
Second up was the green coloured Tier scooter. Setting up the app was simple and painless and you have an option of selecting a scooter via the app or scanning any scooters nearby. Like the Circ scooter it felt solid and safe to ride and every time i rode (i took two trips) i received a safety briefing.
Finally i tried Bird. The bird app has a scanning feature for credit cards which was pretty quick and painless but the scooters have to be paid for by uploading a balance to the app (minimum 10 CHF) and i could not find a simple way of redeeming the remaining balance. Of the three scooters this one felt less sturdy and i did not feel quite as safe riding as on the other two. The app also gave the safety briefing in English but the final page regarding local rules was in German. Hmmmmm…
All three scooter services use different billing models with all three charging a one off “unlock fee,” and charging either by time or distance. The clearest invoice was from Circ and showed both time and distance and was easily accessible through the app. I received an invoice by e-mail from Tier which showed billing by time, but was not accessible through the app. Finally Bird showed distance and time of my journey but it was unclear whether i was billed for time and distance.
So, are personal scooters the future of Zurich’s public transportation? Well, it is my suspicion that, whilst having excellent green credentials, they will end up getting banned soon. Why? Because whilst they all offer safety advice (park safely, wear a helmet, don’t ride on the pavement) it is incredibly easy to ignore the advice and i, personally have been nearly skittled over on several occasions by people riding on the pavement. Couple this with parking habits that would embarrass Stevie Wonder and we have the potential for a pretty big row with the city authorities. Watch this space.
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