In a surprise twist, the Bird app now shows its users when public ridesharing services have bikes available for rental. It’s an odd decision that may lead people to rent bikes from Bird’s competitors, though the company says it’s a necessary step to prevent monopolization.
Those who open the Bird app in participating cities now see public ridesharing stations alongside Bird locations. You can even see the number of bikes available at local stations, and Bird will redirect you to a competitor’s app if you choose to rent their bike.
Again, Bird claims that this integration helps expand its service “without monopolizing transportation options or competing with local businesses.” But we should point out that, with this change, Bird’s app can now function as a portal for all of a city’s bikesharing services.
No other app offers this functionality, so Bird is placing itself in a very advantageous position. The company could, in theory, use its app to observe market trends before deploying its fleet of bikes to a select city. That said, Bird currently offers this feature in just a handful of cities, all of which contain Bird fleets.
If you use an iPhone and live in Austin, LA, San Antonio, Milwaukee, or Oslo, then you should now see local bikesharing operators in the Bird app. This feature will eventually arrive on Android devices and expand to new cities, according to Bird.