E-scooters are here!
Westminster joined the trial yesterday, so there is now a decent-sized area you can try them out in (though sadly the big parks don’t seem to be participating – yet).
The areas where you can hire, ride and park an e-scooter are currently:
- City of London
- Hammersmith & Fulham
- Kensington and Chelsea
- Lambeth (north of the borough only)
- Richmond upon Thames
- Tower Hamlets (limited parking at Canary Wharf and some TfL stations)
More areas are expected to join in the future (check the TfL website for updates).
You need to be 18 or over to ride, and to have a full or provisional driver’s license (I’m not sure whether overseas licenses are valid – maybe someone can let me know in the comments). You aren’t allowed to ride on pavements, but must stay on the roads or cycle lanes, and you must park them tidily in one of the designated areas – the apps make you take a photo of the scooter in place before it will officially end your ride, which is a good idea.
Some parks and other areas allow you to ride through them, but will automatically limit your speed to 8mph while you’re in them (the normal top speed is 12mph).
You are advised to wear a helmet while riding, and at least one of the scooter providers offers a 25% discount if you take a photo to prove you’re wearing one.
And this leads to one of the downsides – three providers have been chosen for the trial, Dott, Lime, and TIER – and each has its own app that you access the scooters through. And since you can never be sure which scooters will be waiting in your local parking area, you need to download and register with all three to be sure you’re ready to roll when you want to.
Another downside is that they’re fairly pricey – a £1 unlock fee, then 15p or 16p per minute means that by the time you’ve ridden for 4 minutes, it would have been cheaper to take the bus, and before you hit 7 minutes it would have been cheaper to use a Boris Bike. The different providers are running various special offers on subscription packages at the moment, which will help, but again, when you can’t be sure which scooter will be available, it’s hard to know which scheme/s to buy into.
That said, I’ve had a few rides on them already, and they are a lot of fun – more direct than a bus and less effort than a bike, and judging by the varying availability at my nearest parking area, quite a few people are finding the fun and convenience worth the cost.
Near where I live there are some good cycle lanes that are divided off from the road by a grass verge or strip of pavement, which have made it feel nice and safe for having a few trial runs, but now Westminster has opened up, I might well use them for longer trips. Such fun!
What: Take a ride on an e-scooter
Where: An increasing number of boroughs in London – annoyingly, you can’t see a map of where they are allowed unless you download one of the apps
When: Any time. I recommend a daytime trip for your first adventure
How much: £1 unlock fee then 15p or 16p per minute (varies by provider)