Electric Scooter: What You Must Know about this Cool Way to Visit a New City

Bike sharing is not something new around the world. Having said that, there are also plenty of failure cases due to infrastructure, high maintenance, and management fees, lack of use, and safety concerns. For example, Melbourne bike share was phased out in 2019 after a poor number of riders.

While the concept and intentions are good, there are challenges to operating a bike-sharing system. It doesn’t stop creative minds from finding new ways to make transportation easier for locals and travelers.

Have you heard of Scooter-sharing? This new concept started about a decade ago but now it has gained popularity in many cities. In 2017, companies like Bird and Lime introduced dockless electric kick scooters and it was first launched in California, United States. Bird soon expanded the network to over 100 cities in 2018. E-scooter rental is also widely available across the country. After COVID-19, worldwide travelers got back on the road and e-scooter has quickly become my favorite new way to get around.

Today, there are over 60 scooter companies, some of them international. Bird, Lime, Neuron, LINK, Beam, and more have coverage in Europe, Australia, North America, and Japan / South Korea. Recently, I explored Brisbane, Auckland, Milan, and Switzerland with the ease of an e-scooter.

Now, I am going to share my experience with the e-scooter: how it works, how to plan your visit, and some useful information.

Where is e-scooter sharing available?

Literally hundreds of cities. So far, I haven’t found any summary of all the companies and locations of e-scooter sharing, mostly because the amount of data is huge and they are changing fast. One way is to do a web search of the city you are planning to visit, and then confirm it by looking into the official website of the e-scooter company. The service provider usually offers a list of all the cities they have operations.

While you know that an e-scooter is available in a city you are planning to visit. Download the app (which I will explain more in detail about these apps), to have a better understanding of the exact coverage and scope of the e-scooter service. The e-scooter has location capabilities and it will alert you if you are outside of its service area.

Don’t worry, in my experience in Australia and New Zealand, the coverage is usually big enough for travelers to get to most of the key places in the city center, or to get closer to the place you want to go to with the connection of another public transportation. For example, in Brisbane, you cannot ride the e-scooter to Mount Coot-tha Botanical Gardens, but I could go as far as the corner of the Toowong Memorial Park, which is about a 10-to-15-minute walk to the Botanical Gardens.

How to find an e-scooter?

It is very easy to rent an e-scooter and you will need to download the mobile app. All magic happens there. Remember, this is an e-scooter sharing system and you are charged based on the number of minutes you use it.

So how does it work? Simply speaking, you hop on the scooter, and you go from point A to point B, simply park the scooter, and then you are free to go. At this point, you will probably have a lot of questions so I am going to explain it in more detail.

There are literally hundreds of e-scooters just lying around all over the city. To locate one, turn on your mobile app and you will see the locations of any available e-scooters around you.

Click on the -scooter icon you can even see the condition of the vehicle: The amount of battery, how many kilometers it can go, and so on. You can even reserve it before you get to the scooter, some companies start charging you the second you reserve your e-scooter, and some companies offer a couple of minutes so you won’t lose your e-scooter when you get there. But so far, I have no problem with getting one because it’s not so busy.

How to hop on an e-scooter and what are the charges?

To start your journey, scan the QR code on the e-scooter with your mobile app. Follow the few simple instructions and unlock the helmet and then you are basically good to go. While you can be charged per use, it is so much cheaper if you simply purchase a day or multi-day pass.

However, the pass offer is different depending on which service provider you are using. For example, when I was in Brisbane, the Neuron had a one-day pass that gives you 90 minutes of usage in total for a day at a price of only US$7.25 per day, which is 70% off for per minute usage!

How to use the app after you hop on your e-scooter?

Once you start your rental you will able to see your location on the map in your app. It is important because the map indicates which zones you are in and where you can park.

There’s a speed limit in certain pedestrian areas, and you can’t just park your e-scooter in certain places. The restricted areas are not big though, riders can hop off their e-scooter in most of the places around the city by moving away from the restricted zones nearby.

How to ride an e-scooter?

It is quite easy to ride an e-scooter, it is easier than riding a bike. It will need a little bit sense of balance though. Put one foot on the e-scooter, and keep your knees bent. Lean forward slightly and don’t let go of the handlebars. Use your other foot on the ground and kick yourself forward and once the scooter starts going, put both of your feet on the scooter, and press the throttle steadily.

The e-scooter is generally stable and if you are heading toward a ramp or a bump surface, lower your body to keep your balance. It helps place your feet front and back on the e-scooter.

Always wear a helmet when you are riding an e-scooter and use the brakes if needed. The e-scooter stops when you stop pressing the throttle and you can always put on feet on the ground when it stops.

What are the laws for riding an e-scooter and is it safe?

There are safety concerns for riders, due to the non-use of helmets, excessive riding speeds, and drink-riding, increasing injury risk.

All general road and traffic rules apply to e-scooter riders. You are just fine with your common sense, and regard yourself as a bike rider: use the bike lane if you can, follow the same traffic lights, and wear a helmet when you are riding on an e-scooter (it depends on the regulations in different countries).

The average maximum speed limit of an e-scooter is about 20kph, and it is set in your rental so you cannot go over that speed unless you are going downhill. This speed is slightly lower than riding a bike, so it is quite safe to ride an e-scooter. Having said that, keep an eye on the road as there will be pedestrians (babies and pets) on the street that may move unpredictably in front of you, and do not let go of the handlebar while you are in motion. Take a pause, stop, and restart if you need to.

Some other safety precautions are, don’t ride an e-scooter with more than one adult (an e-scooter has a general weight limit of 100 kg), and don’t go into areas that have “No Bicycle/skateboard” signs.

How to navigate with your e-scooter when you exploring a new city?

The e-scooter has a mount for you to place your phone and therefore you can simply turn on your map and navigate if needed. The mount is also a wireless charger that helps to preserve your phone battery while you are on the road.

To give you an idea, a 3-kilometer journey takes about 15-20 minutes, depending on the road conditions, and if you are lucky with the traffic lights.

It is easy to get around the city with the help of Google Maps, and you should be able to visit most of the key attractions and popular neighborhoods. Keep an eye on the battery occasionally but it is no big issue as you can find another e-scooter if the battery runs out. The companies hired people to replace batteries and keep maintenance of the e-scooters all around town.

Why is it an ideal way to explore a new city on an e-scooter?

I find this is a new and excellent way to explore a new city because it is generally convenient and easy, on top of that:

  • No driver’s license is needed
  • No need to know how to ride a bike
  • No need to worry about parking
  • No traffic jam
  • Generally safer than driving or riding a bike
  • Low-cost
  • Eco-friendly
  • It’s available anytime (24/7)

What are the limitations of e-scooter sharing?

While there are many benefits, there are some limitations that you need to consider:

  • An e-scooter is a better way for solo or small group travelers because each e-scooter is for one rider.
  • It could be more difficult to manage for family travelers
  • The cost may be high for a big group
  • It is slower than driving with the speed limit

Some tips for you to plan your trip with an e-scooter

Finally, there are some practical tips for you to plan your trip.

  • Do some initial research and understand the coverage and availability of the e-scooter service before your visits.
  • Plot your route so you have a better idea about your day because the e-scooter works better for exploring an area over short distances and frequent stops.
  • Remember, e-scooter rental charges you based on the number of minutes you rent it. “End your trip” when you are stopping somewhere, even for taking pictures. Let’s do the math, if you are stopping for three minutes at one spot, you still need to pay for a total of 30 minutes for stopping at 10 places where you were not even riding the scooter. It is really quick and easy to end your trip and hop back on the same e-scooter a few minutes later.
  • Use the day pass / multi-day pass wisely because it makes a huge difference in costs.

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  1. Ohh wowo….love this idea of using e-scooter to travel _ explore places during our travel. More environmental friendly too. Hope more Asia countries available with this soon. Cheers SiennyLovesDrawing

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