Electric scooters are becoming more and more common in cities around the world for various reasons but many commuters are still not sure about their use day-to-day as a practical way of getting to work.
So, are electric scooters good for commuting? Electric scooters offer a clean and efficient way to commute to work. They can go up to 20MPH and are designed for urban, commuter landscapes. However, there is a catch in that they are not road legal in countries/states at present so you need to research the local rules for this before buying an electric scooter.
There quite a few factors to consider for your own commute before investing in an electric scooter. This makes it essential to do some research before investing in an electric scooter for commuting as certain obstacles could mean that it’s not right for you and you will have wasted your money.
Good Points About Electric Scooters for Commuting
Electric scooters offer commuters a fast alternative to both kick scooters and something that is comparable with cycling.
They go at about 20 miles an hour at present, and this is generally the legal limit in most countries.
This is about the same speed as a cyclist going quite fast, (or a car going very slow!). In fact, Xiaomi claim that their Mi Electric Scooter is “5 x walking speed”, which might help you to picture how fast that is.
As a factor in the speed, most electric scooters are quick to fold, with some manufacturers claim it only takes 3 seconds to fold them up after being used. Any time saving like this on a commute is clearly a plus!
Electric scooters are also compact for commuters so they can be stored in offices quite easily.
Although they vary in size, expect them to be about 40 inches (1m) in length and height when in use, and about 16-18 inches (40-45cm) in width.
This should fit very comfortably under most desks and in most offices.
You can also carry this on public transit or transport as part of a commute.
For instance, a Xiaomi Mi Electric Scooter has an 18.6 mile-range, meaning it should be plenty for most commuters in urban environments.
Before deciding if this is the right amount for you, consider whether your roots would be exactly the same on an electric scooter as it would buy car or other option.
You could try using Google Maps route planner to get a good estimation of the distance.
And of course, you need to multiply your route by 2 to get the real daily distance! This is more of a concern if you feel that you are not able to charge your electric scooter at your office, with more on this below.
Electric scooters are also a much greener alternative to travelling by car, or even a motorised scooter or moped!
As we all know about the carbon footprint of travelling by individual car and its emissions, commuters can feel that they’re doing their bit for the environment by using electric alternatives like electric scooters.
If electric options like scooters are used by more and more commuters, not only will they become normal on our roads but it will also mean cleaner air and better health for everyone.
If you want to help contribute to this, getting an electric scooter is one great way to do it if you can make it work on your daily commute.
You can also use your regular work clothes when commuting on an electric scooter because of the lower effort needed.
You do not need to kick, you simply need to stand still, turn and brake.
If you are able to travel on the road on your commute with an electric scooter, you might want to consider using some kind of reflective high visibility clothing. But the good news here is that you can use the same clothing as you might for cycling or running on roads so you can buy/use the same set for more than just scooter commuting.
A good cycling helmet should work for your ‘escooter’ commute as well, but be sure to read and check whether your chosen helmet recommended for use as an electric scooter before using it.
Less sweaty than kick scooters
Leading on from the points above, electric scooters make for a less sweaty commute then kick scooters or regular push bikes.
But note that they still require some effort because you will need to stand up the whole time, use your leg muscles to turn and absorb bumps and similar parts of the journey.
This will still be some kind of low-intensity physical activity in your day and is likely going to be more beneficial for your health than simply sitting in your car sedentary!
Using an electric scooter for commuting will also mean that you are getting some fresh air first thing in the morning.
Many people say that this helps them to feel awake and more alert when they arrive at work.
However, if you will be riding on the roads, some parts of your journey might not be as fresh as you would like with traffic and exhaust fumes to think about. For this, you could consider getting a face mask as well.
Not-so-good Points About Electric Scooters for Commuting
The key points to check before buying an electric commuter scooter are whether your electric scooter is:
1) road legal and
2) legal to ride on the sidewalks (or pavements).
As with many things that are considered new innovations, the laws are really a bit behind in how they treat electric scooters at the moment as they do not make it that clear or easy for people to commute on them just yet.
In most states in the USA at present, electric scooters need to meet road use requirements by law.
Examples of the legal criteria for this are features like having suspension, appropriate tires, mirror horn, lights brakes and power steering.
New York is one exception where electric scooters are currently not road-legal.
You’ll also need to check about the rules for wearing a helmet as some jurisdictions or countries will state that this is mandatory by law.
Speeds are also a key component of the laws around electric scooters. Most countries will set different top speed limits according to what they see fit, with it being 20 MPH in the USA at present, for instance.
Electric Scooters are Essentially Illegal in the UK at Present for Commuting
Electric scooters are currently illegal in the UK on anything other than private land. This law also states that electric scooters are not legally allowed on cycle paths or footpaths in the UK at the time of publication.
Now I don’t know about you, but I don’t think many commuters will have the luxury of travelling to work only on private land!
This seems a strange law and I expect, or hope rather, that they will change it in the future because electric bicycles and electric skateboards are both legal in different ways in the UK at present.
As such, electric scooters seem unlikely to be of much use for UK commuters until this law likely changes.
That said, you may see many commuters using them in public without being stopped by police.
Although this is likely because the police have far more important and urgent things to attend to, UK commuters on electric scooters could still by law receive a fine for this.
Road Users and Pedestrians Not Used to Them (Yet)
Both drivers and pedestrians are still not used to seeing electric scooters on roads or sidewalks regularly in many places.
This simply means that electric scooter commuters would need to be more careful and aware of the confusion for others around them given the “newness” of people traveling in this way.
Remember most of us are used to seeing bicycles can and can generally gauge how fast they go compared to cars. The same is not obvious for electric scooters as they are so new that many of us really still need to get used to them!
This could be an issue if you have limited charging points in your office or limited space to work with.
I say this because you will need to consider the size of your electric scooter relative to the connection point(s) you have available at work, if you think you will need to charge it, that is.
many manufacturers also stated that it takes around 12 hours to fully charge an electric scooter, but remember that this is full charge, not functional charge.
Another point here is that if you run out of battery en route, then you will have to use your escooter as a regular kick scooter or push scooter, which could be quite tiring if you have hills or a longer journey!
You might also feel unable or worried about charging your electric scooter at work because some employers may think that you are using an unfair amount electricity, although electric scooters use relatively small amounts of electricity to charge.
At 27lbs (12kg) on average, electric scooters might be a little heavy for some commuters, especially if they need to carry them for extended stretches of their journey.
Think about how far it would be from where you would get off to get to your office, any stairs or any kind of public transit/transport you might need to get on and factor the weight of an escooter in that way.
Electric scooters are also a bit unsafe in wet road conditions. This is because they have small and narrow wheels.
For example, when you are tilting to turn an electric scooter, given the size of the wheel, it is much easier for it to slide out than for the same to happen with a bike tire in similar conditions, for example.
This might not be an issue for you if you don’t have to make too many turns, or at least sharp turns, on your commute.
Are electric scooters waterproof? At present, most electric scooters are not fully waterproof, although they should be fine for used in light rain conditions for short periods. The main problem has been around the power switch, with some manufacturers releasing waterproof power switches to overcome this problem for commuters and other users.
That said, another point to think about is the road surfaces because the wheels of electric scooters are quite small, this means that they are much more slippery on wet roads then most other vehicles because of the size of the wheels combined with the angle at which you will need to tilt your electric scooter to turn it. You might also find rough roads or potholes are quite harsh on an electric scooter, so think about the condition of your route before buying.
Can electric scooters climb hills? Electric scooters can handle most hills and go up them at a slightly slower speed. However, they cannot go up particularly steep inclines or gradients at the moment. This means that you might need to get off and push if you have extremely hilly parts of your journey.