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:


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.

Another e-scooter sighting – and a couple of e-scooter quotes

This afternoon an electric scooter and its rider went past me and immediately turned a corner. I had no camera on me, but I scuttled after it anyway, to check that it really was electric. This is because electric scooters are so compact that the only way you can tell for sure that they’re electric is if they carry on for fifty yards without being pushed along by foot. Otherwise, you just can’t be sure.

These things may still be illegal, but they are already a fact of London life. I just nipped out for some milk, and there it was.

In this piece, a good point is made about how electric scooters are going to be much demanded in the aftermath of Lockdown, as a hygiene measure. Politically, this will be hard to resist:

Post-pandemic, will New Yorkers be willing to ride the subway, take a taxi or hire a private driver as they did before? Headlines here in New York already have mentioned a spike in bicycle sales. As New Yorkers re-think their transportation choices going forward in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, the use of electric bicycles and electric scooters will undoubtedly become more common throughout the state.

That’s New York, but it could equally well be London. And the difference between an electric scooter and an electric bicycle is that an electric scooter is easy to carry and store while you work, while a bike could be a cumbersome nightmare by comparison.

Bikes are only built the complicated way that they are so you can peddle them. E-scooters just need charging up, and pushed by foot only in a power emergency. Or, you can just carry it, if necessary on a bus or train. (Will e-scooters be allowed on the Tube? They should be. Far bigger suitcases already are.)

Far later than I should have, I recently told Google to email me with e-scooter news, and here’s a bit from a press release I got a few days back, from Ollie Chadwick, Managing Director of this enterprise:

At the present time, eScooters are entirely legal in many countries and cities. In the UK they are permitted on private land and commercial sites. However, despite eBikes and foot-scooters being legal on the public road, eScooters are not – although they are in widespread use. It is this anomaly that requires clarification, together with a sensible ‘code of usage’.

Allowed, is what he is basically saying. I agree.

I can’t say about the rest of the world, because I seldom visit this place and have yet to do the relevant internet searching. But e-scooters are, I’m now betting, the next big thing in London transport.

Electric scooter with vegetables

ISIBAISIA: The Next Big Thing in Transport, certainly in London Transport, is not robot cars; it is human-driven electric scooters.

Today, outside a local Afghan shop (the same one as at the other end of the second link above), photoed by me, with permission:

The photos were a bit better this time, and the vegetables came out much better.

In this podcast-with-Patrick I expressed scepticism about robot cars coming to your city any time very soon, but omitted to mention electric scooters, which are already here. Missed a trick there.

See also this robot-car-sceptic piece that says Self-Driving Cars Are Taking Longer to Build Than Everyone Thought. Which is not quite right. Self-driving cars are taking longer to build than everyone except me thought.

Even when they do arrive, robot cars will start out as just a robotised version of the same bad idea, which is people, who are not that big, meandering about in metal boxes which are very big indeed. Electric scooters take up a fraction of the space of these metal boxes and are easily stored at work, and equally easily carried on trains or buses, unlike the big metal boxes which are a nightmare to store and impossible to carry around with you. Electric scooters are, in particular, also much better than bikes. In a decade they will be everywhere, in giant flocks. Just you wait and see.

For what it’s worth, I’m pretty sure that the brand of scooter this guy was kind enough to demonstrate to me was the Inokim QUICK 3 super +. I’m going by comparing my photos with the imagery at the website, and going by what the he said it would do, and what he paid for it.

It looked really solid.

A Twitter dump

For several months now, as alluded to tangentially already today, I have a ever heightening heap of, in particular, tweets piling up in my computer, which I have in mind to say clever things about, and which I do not in the meantime want to completely forget about. Pocket is great for articles with big headings at the top, but less good for tweets. So, here is a twitter dump, several of which are now way out of date, but still fun to remember.

This has made some impression on the pile. Not much, but some. So, in no particular order …:

Horrific find in local cafe. Destruction of great literature to create a bookish aesthetic. Shameful. Wasteful.

When God tries to punish your city for homosexuality but gays use their magic shield to protect it.

Two Concordes landing simultaneously.

I was glad to help you get home safely.

… you can be anything you want to be. You absolutely can not.

Inequality is the idea you can never be happy with a million dollars if the guy next door has a billion.

When I said Boris should get the unpopular stuff out of the way straight after the election, I meant unpopular with other people, not me.

“The United Kingdom is the last major European country where it is illegal to use e-scooters on public roads, bike paths, and pavements. This is despite surveys and usage indicating they are overwhelmingly popular where they are legal.” Time to fix that.

I see the potential for a whole new and compelling theory of modern political trends: ‘where does the bonkersness go?’ It could be called The Bonkers Dynamic, or Bonkerology.

Why did the Pilgrim Fathers leave for the New World? … They sailed because they felt themselves in a story.

Brexit Day +4: The grounded planes, the chaos in the streets, the unpaid workers, the crippling strikes, the faltering economy, the upper class buffoon in charge, the petrol bombs, the riot police, the snipers on rooftops, the tanks on the streets. But enough about France

I will not stand for baseless attacks and slander, unless they are directed at people I personally dislike.

A little excess fear is exactly what evolutionary principles would predict. The cost of us getting killed even once is higher than the cost of responding to a hundred false alarms.

However the #CoronavirusOutbreak plays out, pundits and commentators will craft a clean story for why whatever ends up happening was obvious all along.

From Dawah to damage control – All the workshops that used to be around trying to convert non-Muslims to Islam, are now trying to keep Muslims from leaving Islam and doubting religion.

When a team loses it looks unpopular, out of touch, and hence more likely to lose in future. It is the very act of winning that changes other people’s minds because they don’t want to be on the unpopular team, and winning shows that what you’re offering is what’s popular.

An e-scooter obliges me by stopping

For some time now I’ve been wanting to exhibit a photo here, of an e-scooter. Any e-scooter. Trouble is, e-scooters have a way of e-scooting by and being gone, before I can get my camera out and functioning.

But this evening, that changed. Yes the e-scooter scooted by, but then it stopped, at one of the local shops, and parked itself outside:

It’s not the best photo you’ll ever see, but that’s not my point. My point is, that’s an e-scooter, and I’m starting to see them around, quite a lot. Even though riding them on public roads or pavements is apparently still illegal.

By the way, in case you’re wondering, this photo was taken with the permission of its rider. This guy wasn’t behaving like he knew he was breaking any law. At the time, I had no idea about such a thing either.

I don’t know, but I can well imagine a quite near future, for places like London, where e-scooters are having a noticeable impact on transport, especially by commuters, while more elaborate technologies, like robot cars, continue to be Just About To Happen Real Soon Now but still not actually happening. E-scooters, unlike robot cars, already work perfectly adequately. All that’s needed is for the law to catch up, and for cycle lanes and general non-car areas to keep spreading.

A particular plus from where I stand, on the pavement, e-scooters are definitely less scary than rogue cyclists

The thing about bikes is that using them is rather strenuous, and bikes are a bit hard to store. E-scooters are basically vehicles you stand still on, and are surely far easier to store. Next to your desk basically.

E-scooters look to me like a transport technology that is just about to happen. Soon, as opposed to Real Soon Now. I will continue to try to photo these gizmos. Preferably during the hours of daylight, and with people on board.