Today I did Something (and saw five e-scooters (which are cool))

Typically, for the last few months, I have days and days of doing nothing other than whatever I feel inclined to do. On such days, doing two, three or even four blog postings here is doable. But give me a Something that I have to do, and there goes about two thirds of the day.

Once again, I think this is one of the many symptoms of getting old, for poor old me, anyway. Being old, I now need an hour or more to get myself worked up into a sufficiently active state to do the Something in question, and then when it’s done, I need a couple more hours to recover my wits. On a day like that, me doing three or four blog postings is a lot less likely. Today, if you include this one, I will have done three postings. But the first two were very perfunctory, more like tweets done on a blog than your actual blog postings. This one is a bit longer, but that’s just because it’s a ramble.

The silly thing is, the Something I did today was all done and dusted within about one hour. I stepped outside, went to my nearby bank, did my bank business, and then, because the weather was rather filthy, I just went straight home again. But even that made a big dent in my day.

The reason I mention all this is to make that same e-scooter point I’ve been obsessing about here lately, to the effect that e-scooters are about to conquer the world, aka London. Every time I go out, even just to the shops and back, I see several e-scooters. Today, the e-scooter count was: five. That’s a personal record. Five. In the space of less than an hour. I didn’t even try to photo any of them. Like I say, the weather was filthy, and cameras and rain do not mix well. Also, e-scooters are fast and are gone before I can photo them. That they’re fast is why they catching on so fast.

Maybe I should stop this posting now, but here’s another e-scooter thing. A friend with whom I recently discussed my current fascination with e-scooters said: You may be right about why e-scooters make sense. Trouble is: They’re naff. The people who ride on them are twats. E-scooters are not cool.

This friend, however, although far younger than me, is nevertheless no longer of the age where she gets to decide these things. It is teenagers and twenties who determine the coolness of lack of it of things like e-scooters. All my e-scooter sightings today were of teenagers or twenties. Clearly, these teenagers and twenties think that e-scooters are cool enough for them to allow themselves to be seen on them in public, given the advantages to them, in such things as speed and convenience. What old codgers think is only of concern to them if they can be doing something that the codgers disapprove of. If the old codgers, under the delusional impression that they think they can decide such things, think that e-scooters are not cool, so what? That’s just their old codger way of saying they don’t approve. Good. That’s a feature, not a bug. Bring on the e-scooters!

I am still not fully recovered from doing all that tedious Something I did earlier today. So, I reserve the right to go through this tomorrow morning and do whatever grammatical tidying and spell-checking is necessary. As of now, I’m too knackered to bother. I trust it still makes sense, despite whatever communicational blunders now afflict it.

Bulgarian Parliament adopts rules on electric scooter use

Here. The fact that the Parliament of a Brand-X Eastern European nation reckons it worth spending its time wondering how to regulate e-scooters tells you something about the spread of e-scooters just now. And that something is: E-scooters are spreading just now.

The e-scooter has already been designed. It looks like this. No need for any more clever variations, which actually aren’t. The standard design just needs a year or two of incremental improvement, and a thinning out of all the losers so that choosing one gets easy for normal people.

1916 motorised scooter

London commuter Lady Florence Norman:

Interesting thread.

As so often, events now throw new light on the past. Incomprehensible and/or insignificant past events suddenly become more comprehensible and/or significant, because of the history happening now.

LATER: More about these early motorised scooters here.

Skateboards with one big fat wheel will never catch on

Photoed by me, next to the River, earlier this month:

Here is another Micklethwait’s Law to offer to the world, in the process of being perfected. It goes roughly thus: No form of transport which makes you want to put on knee-cap protectors will ever catch on with regular people.

I am now seeing at least two e-scooter users every time I go out my front door, and I do mean every time. I now never don’t see e-scooters speeding by. My point here is that these people typically do not wear knee-cap protectors. These are regular people who feel very safe on their e-scooters. Will this change?

E-tricycle with dog compartment

Michael Jennings reckoned I’d like this vehicle. …:

… and he is not wrong.

Although, a lot of the value of this e-trike is lost because of the presence of the dog compartment. That makes it bulky, and hard to fold up and hard to carry and store, thus losing one of the major features of smaller e-scooters. So, this thing may not catch on widely. The cost of it – £1,426.75 from Amazon – also seems excessive.

Besides which, most dogs of my acquaintance are obsessed with physical exercise, to the point where they themselves could surely be used as a power source.

Cats, on the other hand …

An even more portable e-scooter

This, the WalkCar, looks promising:

Promising because it is so very portable.

WalkCar is a small wheeled plate that is fitted with four wheels and an electric motor that takes the ship forward. It weighs only 2.9 kg and is about the size of a small 13-inch laptop PC, giving it the portability to fit in a bag. It is therefore very easily transportable anywhere. Besides, the vehicle height is just 74mm above the ground (about the width of a smartphone); its flat and square standing surface allows you to step off instantly in any direction safely.

This device is not at all cheap. $1,800. Which is much too much. But if this gadget catches on, as it surely might, that price will fall.

As with the regular e-scooter, the WalkCar will take a bit of getting used to, by other WalkCar users and by the rest of us. But, one to watch.

I have already speculated here that the end point of this story will be when shoes double up as transport. When not using these (I am, for now, calling them PowShoos), you can carry them on your feet! WalkCar has the look, to me, of a big stride in that direction.

As of now, this WalkCar is much slower that regular e-scooters, and has much less of a range. But again, those variables will surely improve. The lack of speed may even aid its acceptance by other road users, most especially pedestrians, who are already now tormented by lawless cyclists.

I’ll say it again. This is the big transport story now, not robot cars. Think of it as the motorisation and miniaturisation of Shanks’s Pony.

A rather clumsy attempted solution to the unprotected bike problem

In my various earlier postings about e-scooters, I mentioned the fundamental problem of bikes for getting around on. Because bikes are so big and clumsy to take with you everywhere, bikers must constantly leave their bikes unattended, which means they regularly get damaged and/or stolen.

This afternoon, while out-and-about out in south-east London, I encountered and photoed a very partial answer to the bike protection problem:

I’m guessing that how this works is that you have a special key that lets you into this contraption, to insert or remove your bike.

Setting aside the sheer bother and expense of this thing, the bigger problem is that your bike problem is not typically confined to one spot. The problem follows you. Wherever you go, you may want to get shot of your bike for a while, and bam, sooner or later it gets wrecked or nicked. At least with hired bikes, there is a choice of places to abandon the bike. With this thing, you need to hire a whole new metal tend for each spot you might want to stop at. No. Comments telling me otherwise would be most welcome, but as of now, I just don’t think this works.

If, despite my grumbles, you want to investigate further, I took (see the photo on the right of the above three) a photo-note of the website to go to.

E-scooters will be personally owned – not hired or shared

At present, The Plague and The Riots loom large. But when historians look back on 2020, will they instead talk about e-scooters? I am now betting so. E-scooters, historians will say, were a crucial step in the development of PowShoos. You know, Power Shoes, the ones you put on, which make you immediately able to (a) stand almost still, but yet (b) travel at a hundred miles an hour without hitting anyone.

Back in the time of now, living as we now do at this historic moment in transport history, we have to make do with our clunky old e-scooters, and here is another thought from me on e-scooters, along with all these thoughts.

Google is starting to send me emails with links to articles about e-scooter hiring and e-scooter sharing. But if you google these subjects, you also find pieces saying that these ideas are already failing, in places where this is being attempted. This makes perfect sense to me, because what I now say is that shared e-scooter services make little sense.

The only big reason for hiring or sharing an e-scooter now is to find out if you’d like to own one. As soon as e-scooters become at all widely owned, as they are about to in London, we’ll all have friends who can lend us theirs to have a go on, to see if we’d like to own one also. Actual e-scooter sharing will be huge, informally. But it won’t be an organised “service”, public or private, because it won’t need to be. And anyway, as soon as you even see an e-scooter in action, you can see if an e-scooter would suit you. It’s not complicated. What you see is what you’ll get.

Consider the current domination of laptop computers. That likewise spread owner-to-owner. There were never any big laptop sharing or hiring services. There didn’t need to be.

As I explained in my last e-scooter posting, a huge attraction of e-scooters is that you can cling onto them when travelling but not actually riding on them. You can carry them, and as the video adverts for e-scooters that Google is now attaching to my internet reading are explaining, you can put an e-scooter into the boot of a car, which you cannot do easily with a bike, unless you are something freakish like a member of a sports bike racing team. You can even put an e-scooter into the boot of a taxi. All of which makes e-scooters very appealing compared to their big competitors, biking or walking. Biking is too cumbersome. (What do you do with the damn bike when you aren’t biking?) Walking is too slow and can’t do longer distances.

Bike hiring is the answer to the problem of what you do with a bike once you get off it and need then to abandon it. E-scooter hiring, on the other hand, is the answer to a problem which does not exist. When you get off your e-scooter, you hang on to it. Until you get to work, where you store it, or until you get home, ditto. Otherwise, you keep it with you.

To put it another way, the e-scooter is, above all, personal. You will own your personal e-scooter. Or, like me, you won’t, but will note with interest that millions of others are doing this.

Bike sharing schemes required a massive amount of cumbersome politics to get established, which was endured because bike sharing schemes solve an actual problem. But all plans for e-scooter sharing schemes will be overwhelmed by the simple process of e-scooter people just buying their own e-scooters. All that is needed, politically, is for e-scooters to be allowed.

As of right now, e-scooters are very expensive. E-Scooter Man, whom I recently met and talked with, twice, paid the best part of a a thousand quid for his. Soon, e-scooters will plunge in price to nearer a hundred quid. They will also get a lot less heavy and less bulky, even than they are now, what with their portability being such a big deal.

Then, watch them fly off the shelves.

The e-scooter story gets more interesting – in Sainsburys

Last night I went shopping, and was out for about an hour. In that time, I observed three more e-scooters in action. Three. In the space of an hour.

First, on the left below, was the usual. A guy on an e-scooter, scooting past me so quickly I hardly saw him. This time, I did have a camera with me, and managed the photo you see. Thank goodness for zoom:

On the right, it gets a bit more interesting. We are now in my local supermarket of choice, Sainsburys. I spotted a lady pushing what I could clearly see (from the wires) was an e-scooter with an e-. I asked her, as super-politely as I could manage given the circumstances, if I could photo her e-scooter. “I’m writing an article about e-scooters.” “Not you, just the scooter.” She agree very readily, so there is her e-scooter.

Then it got really interesting. I spotted a guy, not just pushing his e-scooter around, but using it to carry his basket of purchases. Same request from me. Photo please, not you, just the e-scooter, please say if you don’t want this, ingratiate ingratiate. But, surprising answer, beyond the Yes Fine Photo Away bit, I mean. Turned out this was the same guy and the same e-scooter as in this earlier posting here. “You photoed me before!” Oh, wow, that was you.

So again with the photoing, not of him but of the e-scooter, this time with his shopping basket aboard:

You can see a bit of my basket on the right there. The real point, however, is how very fortuitously convenient it is to plonk your basket on an e-scooter like that. Nobody planned this. When they were designing e-scooters, nobody said, what about supermarket shopping? It just happens to work well. You’ll be seeing a lot more of this in the future. There will probably even be design tweaking, to include a shopping basket of this sort in the design of the entire e-scooter, just like is happening with food delivery motor-scooters.

I asked E-scooter Man if he’d had any grief about bringing his e-scooter into Sainsburys. Funny you should ask, he said. No grief from Sainsburys, but, the nearby Tesco wouldn’t let him do this. So he said, fine, I’ve been shopping at Tesco’s all my life, but if you don’t want this, I’ll take my business elsewhere. No problem, your gaff your rules, but I’m off. Whether these contrasting decisions reflected a big Tesco-v-Sainsburys commercial divergence, is some sort of class thing, or merely reflects that Sainsburys has bigger aisles, I do not know. My guess is, local staff made it up, but Tesco will give it further thought. Prediction: the design of shops will also be affected.

E-scooter Man agreed with my claim that bikes are useless for urban shopping, because you have to leave them outside, and sooner or later, they’ll get stolen. “I’m not leaving my bike out there.” Everywhere I go in London I see bikes parked outside, and a regular percentage of them are severely damaged, especially the wheels. Sometimes entire bits are missing. And of course if it’s all been nicked, you don’t see that, but it still happened. But, when you stop riding your e-scooter you can take it with you. Above all, if necessary, you can carry it with you. If, in mid-shop, they tell you to stop pushing it around, you can simply fold it up and carry it. Are they going to even forbid you to do that? Surely not. You need never be separated from from your e-scooter. Which means it could still be mugged from you, but is far, far less likely to simply be stolen or maliciously wrecked in your absence.

New category here. E-scooters.

Inflatable e-scooter

Those e-scooter emails from google really hit the jackpot yesterday evening, with news of this gloriously idiotic contrivance:

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Yes, it’s an inflatable e-scooter. And by that I mean, not only can you inflate it. You have to inflate it. Madness, I tell you.

Here’s what must surely be a deeply embarrassed model driving it:

When she was little she dreamed of being a supermodel, striding out onto a catwalk and quickly parlaying that into being a movie star. But now look at what she’s doing. It’s like Idiot Toys never stopped and this was the subject of yesterday’s posting there. (And I for one wish it never had stopped.)

I’d be very happy to be proved wrong about this, but as of now, here’s my take on this contraption. The whole point of e-scooters is how convenient they are and how small they are. So, you do not want them occupying as much road space as a small motorbike, and you need to be able to unfold them and fold them up in a single figure number of seconds. This thing has to be inflated. How the hell long does that take? Then when you’ve finished, you have to uninflate it. How long does that take? No. This is altogether too much faffing about, and it defeats about eighty percent of the point of having an e-scooter.

A small platform the size of a small skateboard, with tiny wheels at each end and a stick with handles at the top at the front end, that folds up and down. All pushed along the road by an electric motor that weighs nothing and occupies no space at all. That’s what an e-scooter is. The e-scooter has already been designed! It already works! One of the many things that an e-scooter is not is a giant airbag on wheels.