FORGET buses, taxis and trains - electric scooters are the newest form of public transportation on the block, and our reporter Fran Way took one out for a spin. Here's her verdict.

RENTING an electric scooter in Oxford last week was really quite fun. I was surprised because I thought I might feel a bit…silly.

Would people stare? Would they question why a grown adult is zipping around on a scooter? Or worse... heckle me?

The reality was I didn’t even notice onlookers as I whizzed through the streets of Headington on an e-scooter coloured the brightest shade of orange. Conspicuous, yes. Did I care? No.

The new scooters go at 10mph, and slower in certain ‘zones’ set out by the council. Considering the average person walks at about 4mph, it did feel fast on the road - the only place where these can legally be ridden - but not so fast that I felt out of control.

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Admittedly, they take a bit of getting used to. They’re bulky and sturdy, and need to be pushed forward at first (like a normal, non-electric scooter).

Then, you use the throttle to increase the speed and the brakes to slow down.

But once you're on and moving, you really don’t have to do much else – other than look where you’re going, control the speeds and enjoy the ride.

In fact, it’s so easy and nippy that walking now feels inefficient.

There are 50 hop-on and hop-off scooters in Headington, with a number of ‘slow zones’ where the scooters automatically lower their top speed.

Oxford Mail: A map of the area where scooters are allowed. Grey shows 'no ride' areas.A map of the area where scooters are allowed. Grey shows 'no ride' areas.

There’s also ‘no riding’ zones like the parks and the John Radcliffe Hospital where they can’t be used at all.

Sceptics on social media have already compared the scooters to a similar initiative a couple of years ago which saw rental bikes tossed in the river. But Voi have a dedicated warden whose job is to collect stray scooters using a GPS tracker.

The price of renting a scooter is reasonable – it’s £1 to unlock and then 20p per minute. So, a 10-minute journey will cost around £3. There are also day and monthly passes for unlimited rides.

People on lower incomes and students can get hefty discounts and Voi have slashed the prices completely for NHS and emergency service workers during lockdown.

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With good pricing and speedy journeys, the new scheme has a lot going for it. One of my only negatives, however, was the lack of suspension.

The scooter's inability to bounce over dips in the road made me vow to wear a sports bra next time. One of the Voi team showing me the ropes said standing on the tip of your toes acts as a shock absorber, so consider that a helpful tip!

Overall, the scooters are fun to ride and are a great alternative to getting behind the wheel. If all goes well, we could soon seem them rolled out across the city.

Oxford Mail:

• To ride the scooters you will need to download the Voi app, and have a provisional or full driving licence. Helmets should be worn.


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