Scooters: the bane of your life, or an economic, quick and useful way to get around? Despite the police and others confirming that the electric powered scooter is illegal under current legislation (except on private land) I`ve yet to see anyone being stopped by the boys in blue, whether they are on the pavement, the road or elsewhere. In one area though, they are set to become an accepted and legal way to get about, that of the hire market. The electric bicycle has become an integrated part of London`s transport strategy, and it looks like London is set to follow the lead of many other cities around the world in also licensing scooters.
The usual domestic scooter is a comparatively light and spindly thing, great for putting under your arm for running up a flight of stairs, but unlikely to endure the lack of love and outdoor life that is the lot of a hire vehicle. There`s also the question of theft and the plundering for parts to consider – lithium-ion batteries are expensive things and don`t last forever, so Link have built their pitch for the London franchise to a much higher specification. It’s a sturdy beast, and with a bit more rake at the front than the average it gives a secure & stable ride. I haven`t set foot on a scoter in many years and only needed minimal tuition to get started, which bodes well for the novice user. To avoid suddenly jolting forward you need to take one good push off from a standstill before hitting the thumb operated switch on the right, after that it’s a simple question of balance, and modulating your speed with your right thumb.
The more you depress the switch the faster you go, up to max of 25 kph, but Links centralised system gives much more control than any other self-guided transport on the market. Thanks to some very clever MIT software they have developed what they dub Geo Fencing which allows the scooter to be programmed to go to proscribed maximum speeds in certain areas, for instance within 100 metres of a school or hospital. They can also completely cut the power in other areas, for instance making them unusable in pedestrian only zones such a pavements, which will not doubt make them much more acceptable to the wider population. Its early days at the moment, but with a 50 mile range and the ability to define the zones of use in conjunction with the local authority it looks like the 5 year plus R&D effort put into these scooters might soon be paying dividends.