Are Electric Scooters Ridiculous Or Surprisingly Chic?
Stuart McGurk is AGAINST le scooter
Let’s be clear about something: no human, since we left the trees, has looked anything but ridiculous by moving horizontally while standing stationary. Here’s the complete list of them: Segway riders, Airwheel riders, “hoverboard” (ie, two-wheel) riders and Hannibal Lecter when they wheeled him from high security to meet the senator. (Although, let’s be honest, the latter does make a killer Halloween costume if you have too much time on your hands.)
To that we can now add the riders of electric scooters or, specifically, the ones the fashion mafia zoom around on during Paris Fashion Week. Leaving aside that they’re illegal to use on UK roads – they may as well be smoking a crack pipe – what’s worse is how, for scooter riders, whatever their location, any surface is their surface. The electric scooter rider sees the city much as a toddler does when pushing a toy car over a surface in which the roads are painted on. Nwwwwwwrrrr! Over a crossing, down a pavement, through a main road, across the back of a pensioner that another scooter has just knocked over – wheeeee!
I swear, I once saw someone on an electric scooter veer diagonally from a pavement, across a road, onto the other pavement, into a shop and stay on his scooter the whole time. “Mate!” I wanted to shout, “They’re not hovershoes! At least when cycling you have the small hope it’s the bike that’ll take the brunt if a car decides to career into your path, leaving you deposited on the bonnet. With a scooter? Good luck: the traffic is essentially playing a game of meat-bag whack-a-mole with the suckers. Still, silver lining and all that.
Teo van den Broeke is FOR le scooter
First off, let’s get one thing straight: there’s a big difference between micro-scooters and electric scooters. Everything about micro-scooters – from their foldability and the fact that they’re foot-powered to those stupidly tiny wheels – makes them ridiculous. And that’s before you get to the fact that micro-scooters, once the preserve of Nineties toddlers and noughties tweens, have more recently been adopted by a certain facet of the adult population. I mean, no crowded Tube carriage can be that bad...
The nippy little electric scooters that have recently taken over the streets of Paris, on the other hand, are, in my opinion, the diametric opposites to their micro cousins. Nippy, economical and surprisingly chic, Paris’ new scooters are to the French capital’s transport infrastructure what micro-scooters are not to anyone’s social standing.
On a recent work trip to the French capital I decided to give up on my car and driver in favour of short, whizzy trips on these rent-by-the-minute scooters, which can be found on any street corner from the Marais to the Trocadéro and picked up and dropped down at leisure. Weaving through traffic at a cool 12mph (speeds have been capped following a number of accidents), I felt like Marty McFly on his hoverboard, only cooler (and perhaps slightly less protected from angry French drivers), free from societal constraints and open to anything – Serge Gainsbourg on a scooter, if you will.
There are currently 20,000 scooters in Paris and though there are issues – inconsiderate parking, pavement mounting, reckless scooting – the overriding benefits for not only individuals but for the city as a whole are manifold. From the positive impact on the environment (fewer fossil fuel-guzzling vehicles on le roads will never be a bad thing) to the fact that less cars means fewer traffic accidents, in my opinion the fact that we don’t have more of them in London is ridicule indeed.