Would you scoot to commute post-pandemic?

They may be a common sight, but privately owned motorised scooters are still illegal in many locations on public roads, pavements, and sidewalks. Rental scheme trials taking place across the globe and some countries and cities have started to adopt e-scooters as ‘acceptable’, even if they are not declared publicly as legal. With battery life improving, range extending and entry prices dropping, e-scooters could be one answer to getting to work in a post-pandemic commute?

Last week we were fortunate enough to get a glimpse in to the world of e-scooters with international brand Inokim. It was insightful and...well…a lot of fun! It was a great opportunity to continue the testing of the TorchONE in a different environment with a larger group of commuters with differing requirements.

Standing upright, you glide, ghost-like along the street. have-scooters make no emissions. You are alone, outside, unlikely to catch anything or pass anything on. You are no burden to the public transport system, nor do you contribute much to congestion. There are no parking costs or concerns to worry about. You take up little space. There are a lot of upsides.

Off road is a different story. On the right scooter (we were using the Inokim OXO for the photo shoot) green lanes and byways take on a whole new life. With little to no sound and speeds up to 20mph, the quiet woodland suddenly becomes an off-roading adrenaline rush without disturbing others with emissions and noise. The OXO tackled the inclines and declines with ease thanks to its ‘booster’ button and the suspension means that gravel, bumps, and debris is navigated with ease. The suspension is the key difference to the road/path focused variants along with after-market tyres.


Commuter Case Study

The relative novelty of the e-scooter phenomenon means there are many unresolved concerns around safety, etiquette, weather conditions and legality, as discussed previously. But enthusiasts insist that they have found a cost-effective nirvana accessible to few who make the daily trudge to the office: a commute that is enjoyable.

Isabelle Ward, a client relationship director in training and development, took her first scooter ride on a Bird while honeymooning in California and now uses one to commute across central London every day. “It’s fun,” she says. “It saves money and relieves stress — it’s beautiful. I arrive fresh-faced and ready to go, [and] save myself money.” “I go on cycle routes. In London we have fantastic bike lanes,” Ms Ward adds. “I use it for meetings — I rock up on my scooter and my clients are impressed.”

 

Not everyone has received such a warm reception to a mode of transport more commonly associated with toddlers than office workers. Joe Rawnsley, who works in IT and rides from Brixton to Blackfriars, insists the electric version is more grown-up than a regular push scooter but admits: “Both are a bit uncool. My friends take the piss.” The advantages still outweigh the ridicule, Mr Rawnsley says, including saving about £6 a day in fares. “I can just put it under the desk. I can wear anything, don’t have to worry about being in a suit.” Data from US cities’ shared mobility programmes consistently show that, where available, electric scooters such as Bird and Lime’s are more popular than municipal bike-rental services.

 

Do I need to wear a helmet?

It all depends on where you are riding. In many countries or states where electric scooters are legal you can ride without a helmet, however some places have specific age requirements or require every rider to wear a helmet by law, regardless of age.

Images from India Hodder from India Rose Creative

Our advice? While you should double-check the position of your local regulator on electric scooters and find out whether helmets are compulsory, we believe you should always wear one, even if it is not mandatory. The helmet protects your skull and therefore brain which is one of the most important parts of your body. As the old adage goes, it is always ‘better to be safe than sorry’, and with road vehicles, one can never be cautious enough.

 

A revised vision

Longer-term, there’s a possibility that we may have become so used to living and travelling in a less squashed-in manner, that we aren’t prepared to go back to the pre-social distancing crush. Lockdown has also focused minds on our relationship with the environment and levels of pollution, which may add to the pace of change. Mayor of London Sadiq Kahn has pledged to make the capital carbon-neutral by 2030, now he is re-elected.

The pandemic has disrupted mobility and the effects will linger well into the future. As people have been avoiding public transportation and relying on personal and shared mobility options, cities have redefined car lanes to create more space for bikes and scooters.

Like Inokim, we are extremely supportive of transport that offers green and efficient alternatives, and provided riders adhere to similar safety standards and road use behaviour, as responsible cyclists do, they have a great role to play in migrating to a carbon neutral society. And if by chance your current commute can be taken off-road, we would highly recommend taking a look at the Inokim OXO to spice up your journey.

Further details:

TorchONE information can be found HERE 

Details of the scooters used HERE

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