‘I rented an e-scooter in London and found cyclists more annoying than drivers’
When the UK implemented the e-scooter trials last year, some Londoners were excited but others were understandably nervous. Private e-scooters have been a contentious issue due to their high speeds and the somewhat disregard riders have for the roads. That is why when the UK Government announced they’d be trialling legal e-scooters people were understandably hesitant.
If you were to walk through London, you’re able to rent e-scooters from Lime, Dott and Tier. I’ve used Lime scooters in Brisbane and that was a pleasant experience so I went with what I knew and downloaded the Lime app. After some fiddling about with the verification process – you have to have a driving license (provisional or full) and be over 18 to be able to rent an e-scooter – I was ready to go.
E-scooters are available to rent in 10 London boroughs – Tower Hamlets, Westminster, Richmond upon Thames, Southwark, Camden, Ealing, City of London, Kensington and Chelsea, Hammersmith and Fulham and Lambeth (north side only). As I was in Vauxhall, I saw available e-scooters in Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens and decided it was time to give them a go. It costs GBP1 to unlock the bike and then you’re charged around 20p a minute.
The e-scooters were all parked in a bay in Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens (Image: Ayokunle Oluwalana)
After finally being able to unlock an e-scooter (it took around five minutes for my face to be recognised) I was keen to get going, or so I thought. I was hesitant because London roads are notoriously stressful and being on two thick wheels with only a piece of frame to stand on didn’t fill me with confidence if I collided with something. Setting off from Vauxhall, the traffic was instant.
Cars were passing by, lorries and buses encompassed my view and the nerves didn’t shake. As I pressed down on the throttle, I didn’t seem to get any quicker and it felt like I was simply trudging along as life passed me by.
Taking in all the sights on a beautiful sunny day was a treat (Image: Ayokunle Oluwalana)
The e-scooters max speed is capped at 12.5mph but the speed I was going didn’t even feel close to that. The saying ‘slow and steady wins the race’ was ringing in my head but I had zero faith in that coming true.
As I took a breather on Vauxhall Bridge and saw another person on his e-scooter going so much quicker, I knew something was up. I went back into the Lime app to look for some answers and found that ‘training mode’ was engaged. This meant my top speed was capped at 7mph – everything started to make sense.
As I contemplated whether I was ready to come off training mode, I felt the breeze in my hair and that made the decision easier for me.
London looks beautiful when you’re not sweating buckets trying to walk through it (Image: Ayokunle Oluwalana)
I swiftly switched it off and just like that, I was off. Racing through the streets of Vauxhall it felt like I was Sonic the Hedgehog (but without the cardio aspect). I found myself racing down Vauxhall Bridge feeling very at ease with this new mode of transport.
It started making sense to me why people enjoyed it. As I approached some of the main roads, I found cars giving me enough space to ride without feeling the pressure to get out of the way. That was my biggest concern and I know this might sound a bit controversial, but London drivers were actually pretty nice to me today.
The pristine line of white houses was a thing of beauty (Image: Ayokunle Oluwalana)
I wish I could say the same for the cyclists I encountered but that would be a lie.
As I approached a red light a cyclist behind me kind of muttered but loud enough for me to hear: “Can you get out of the way?” Considering there was an ample amount of space to my side to go around me, there really was no need for that. I smirked when we met up at another traffic light and thanks to the acceleration of a motorised engine, I left the cyclists in my wake at the lights and that felt like a little win.
As I kept exploring, I wound up in Westminster and found myself in Ecclestone Square in Pimlico. This wasn’t part of the plan or my journey but I felt obliged to take in my surroundings once there. The pristine white houses lined the streets, side by side they looked immaculate and I found myself admiring their beauty.
Being able to browse Ecclestone Square while gliding through it was very peaceful (Image: Ayokunle Oluwalana)
Again, cars gave me enough space and the cycle lanes meant I was able to ride with no worries.
Riding the scooter takes minimal effort, whether that’s a good or bad thing, I’ll leave that up to you. It did feel like I was simply cycling around London but without the cardio, something I missed. On a nice sunny day, however, being able to effortlessly glide through the streets of London and take in the sights can’t be frowned upon.
Being able to whizz through, taking care to avoid any potholes, this felt like a viable mode of transport to be a tourist in the city.
For GBP7.90, it really wasn’t that bad all things considering and where I could have potentially gone for that amount
I did see some people on their private e-scooters riding on pavements, something I actively tried to avoid. I think if enforced and if people are punished for going onto pavements as e-scooters on pavements are a danger to many, then the scheme could work. If not, it’s only a matter of time till someone is seriously hurt again from colliding with one.
Another aspect I found was that the e-scooters were all safely parked in the parking bay at the Pleasure Gardens. None were left on their side and they were all tucked into their corner, not disturbing anybody. It was a pleasant experience overall and one I’d likely do again.
What are your thoughts on e-scooters?
Let us know in the comments here.