Aren’t scooters just children’s toys, not adult vehicles anyway? | Blaise Tapp

In this year of the low bar, arguably my biggest achievement of 2021 so far has been walking to and from my son’s school within the hour.

Friday, 14th May 2021, 5:00 pm
A safety conscious e-scooter rider in Southsea Picture: Habibur Rahman

While this minor accomplishment won’t trouble whoever took over from Norris McWhirter at the Guinness Book of Records, it represented something of a minor landmark for me.

According to my very smart phone – the one I still don’t know how to work properly – the said primary school is 1.2 miles from our front door, so the return trip is the best part of 2.5 miles.

That I did this by 9am is up there with the time I ate 18 slices of lukewarm takeaway pizza, only this time I didn’t suffer from debilitating indigestion for three days afterwards.

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The last half mile of the early morning circumnavigation of this tiny corner of Middle England was a killer, like how I imagine a marathonist feels when they hit their wall.

It was at this moment of personal challenge that I wished Uber operated in our neck of the woods, given that spotting a bus locally is something of a cause for celebration.

For a brief moment, I considered completing the journey on the scooter that my five-year-old had made his way into school on.

I decided against it for a number of reasons, including the fact that a) scooting is harder than it looks and b) it was unlikely to withstand my bulk.

Then there is the fact that no grown-up should be seen in public on a scooter, for the simple reason that they are made for children.

It is because of this that I find myself utterly perplexed by the growing trend for fully grown adults to motor around town on an e-scooter.

These battery-powered two-wheelers are growing in popularity both around the world and in the UK, where they are being trialled for hire in at least 50 towns and cities – including Portsmouth.

Because these scooters, which can reach speeds of 15.5 miles per hour, are classed as motor vehicles, those who hire them from a licensed operator must hold a provisional driving licence, meaning they must be aged 16 and above.

The government is waiting for these trials to end before deciding whether or not to introduce legislation that would see these scooters being used freely across the country.

Although it is illegal to use privately owned e-scooters in public, this hasn’t stopped thousands of them flooding our highways during the past year, including down our way, where there isn’t a government-backed trial.

I’ve seen e-scooters being ridden illegally on roads at least three times in the past couple of weeks and each time I have it has been worthy of a double-take, partly because the sight of a pasty-faced 20-something whizzing along the road is still a novelty and also due to the fact that you can’t hear them coming.

If you’re brave enough to expose yourself to the perils of town centre traffic, without any protection other than a helmet, then it would make sense to stick to cycling, which at least keeps you fit.

As far as I can see, e-scooters are the green alternative for the lazy, which probably won’t catch on as a marketing slogan.

In the parts of the country where these scooters are being trialled, interest is growing and this trend is likely to become more popular as it isn’t illegal to buy these scooters online, and they aren’t eye-wateringly expensive.

If you were to have asked the 13-year-old me how the cool kids of 2021 would travel around I’d have put my tuck money on hoverboards.

Who knows whether that day will ever come, but I know that I’ll be giving e-scooters a wide berth in every sense from now on and will be sticking to long morning walks.

A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron

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