Is It Difficult To Ride An Electric Scooter?

Electric scooters are relatively easy to ride, even for an absolute beginner.  This is largely due to the position a rider assumes while riding.  First and foremost, the upright position which is natural for most adults, brings a sense of safety.  Second, the proximity to the ground (most e-scooter decks are 6-10 inches above the ground) makes the user feel nothing from the extraordinary.  Third, engaging the accelerator is as simple as moving your thumb.  While doing so the scooter begins to move making it easier to maintain the balance.

Riding an electric scooter is much different than riding a bicycle. In general, if you’ve never ridden a scooter, but have ridden a bicycle, then you can assume that you will know how to ride the scooter within the first 5 or 10 minutes.  It may take an hour or two of actual riding to feel very confident and at ease.  At this point, riding is pure and simple fun.

Individuals who have never ridden an e-scooter, nor a bicycle, should be able to handle it within a day or two.  Riding a scooter is different from riding a bicycle. As is the case with any activity, the more you practice, the better you get at it.  The same holds true for electric scooters.

Practical pointers for the beginners

  • In order to be extra safe, for the first few hours or days try to stay away from crowded sidewalks, busy streets and any virtually anything that you can run into. The more you practice, the better you will feel the electric scooter and it’s handling ability.
  • Once it’s moving, the scooter will actually help you keep your balance. This is simple physics that makes it stand out from bicycle riding, but don’t get a false sense of security, you can fall off an e-scooter fairly easily, so be careful. The point to remember is to stand relatively still.
  • While you’re riding, if at any point you are unsure on how to handle an obstacle ahead of you, just hop off the scooter. It could be a large curb that you’re unsure if the scooter can handle, a group of pedestrians that can suddenly get in way, bicyclists approaching from the opposite direction, anything really. Take it easy, hop off the scooter, you can continue your ride in no time after the obstacle has been cleared.

How to ride an e-scooter?

  1. Locate the power button (do this before you even step on the scooter).
  2. Turn on the scooter.
  3. Put your both hands on the handlebars.
  4. Locate the brake handle on the left and the accelerator on the right.
  5. Put your right foot on the scooter’s deck, close to the steering column.  Keep the left leg on the ground.
  6. Using your right thumb push the accelerator about half-way in (don’t worry, the motor will not engage, yet).
  7. Using your left foot, start pushing the e-scooter forward.
  8. As soon as you reach the speed of about 1.2 MPH (2 km/h), the motor will engage and you will feel the scooter moving forward. Note: these speed values may slightly vary depending on your e-scooter model.
  9. Place your left foot on the deck, just behind the right foot.
  10. Try to stand relatively still while you’re riding.
  11. If you need to change your path/lane, always look back to make sure nothing is approaching you from behind.
  12. Be extra cautious and enjoy the ride!

Best surface to ride

It is the best to ride on a smooth surface, such as asphalt or concrete.  Rocky roads or cobblestone paths are not comfortable to ride and they’re not safe.  Many European cities, especially the old town parts, are lined with cobblestone which makes for a bumpy, uncomfortable and an unsafe ride.  Those of you going on a trip to Europe and planning on renting a ride-share e-scooter should keep this in mind.

Flat grass is fine, as long as the lawn is smooth without hidden ridges.  If you’re unsure how flat the lawn is, don’t ride.  If your front wheel gets caught in a hole, you will get hurt.

Learning to ride an electric scooter is quick and simple

Can you get hurt riding an electric scooter?

As fun to ride they are, they can also be dangerous if not used with a proper dose of cautiousness and common sense.  When I first started riding my Xiaomi M365, I felt more like a pedestrian, than as a rider.  There were times I forgot to look over my shoulder while changing lanes, etc.  This habit may be dangerous.

Data regarding electric scooter safely is scarce.  So far, there have been only two studies done that specifically analyzed their safety.  After analyzing the data and crunching the numbers it is estimated that there are 145.9 collisions per one million miles traveled on an electric scooter.  This is significantly higher than the average 6 accidents for every one million miles traveled in a car.

At first glance these findings may seem very alarming.  However, there a few important facts to consider:  

  • Both studies were conducted in the United States where most of the riders were using ride-share e-scooters.  People who rent scooters are at higher risk of getting into an accident because they’re not used to a particular vehicle.  Each time they ride, they use a different scooter with different handling, acceleration and braking ability.  If you’ve ever owned a bicycle, a skateboard, a pair of roller blades, etc., you will know what I am talking about.  The more you used the equipment, the easier it got to ride it and you felt more comfortable riding.
  • In contrast to many European countries, in the United States there is no such thing as mandatory bicycle riding classes for teens.  It is not uncommon to see a bicyclist riding on the opposite side of the road against the traffic.  I strongly believe that the lack of such training contributes to higher incidence of accidents involving electric scooter riders. 
  • Many people still consider e-scooters as toys.  For this reason they act on them as if they were toys, forgetting about the rules of the road and proper safety precautions.

It is only a matter of time when riding electric scooters becomes safer and more enjoyable to all.  Cities need to create rules of the road for e-scooter and riders need to treat their scooters as vehicles, not toys.

Safe-riding tips

  • Always wear safety gear, such as a helmet and knee pads.
  • Do not ride in rain or snow. Slippery conditions make it extremely easy to fall and get hurt.
  • Be careful of the curbs on the road.  It’s very easy to lose balance or puncture the tire if hit at increased speed.
  • Never ride single handed.  The scooter is not a toy.  It should never be operated single-handedly.
  • Never ride with other occupants.  Most e-scooters have been designed for single rider use only.

Final thoughts

Electric scooters are super fun and easy to ride.  I have yet to find a person who has ridden one and not enjoyed it.  E-scooters are also very practical and somewhat eco-friendly.  Although there has been some discussion about these claims being made by ride-share companies which involve chargers driving around town picking up scooters.  However, when you consider electric scooters that are privately owned, then it is safe to say that they are in fact green.

There is no doubt that they will become even more popular throughout the world.  So, if you’ve never ridden an e-scooter, give it a try, I am confident that you will absolutely love it!

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