(AKA ‘Don’t mess yourself up’)
It was a long wait for the paramedics. He was pretty groggy, kept slipping into a shallow consciousness, and the gash on his head was to the bone. How did he make such a mess of himself?
We’ll get back to that. But it’s time we all had a little chat about electric scooter safety. So gather ‘round, pull up a chair, and listen in….
We all know the scooter feeling is amazing. Personal freedom, wind in your hair, whizzing along, not a care in the world. It’s great. What’s not so great is the feeling of skin on concrete, a blow to the head, weeks of bandages and rehab, or worse.
So let’s not sugar-coat it, scooter heroes and heroines. Scootering can be dangerous. But it can be a lot less dangerous if you apply some common sense, and whack on the right gear. Hang on, it may be about to get a bit preachy…….
Our friend from the top of this page was test riding. He’d been given a helmet. But after being on and off a few scooters, he got confident, left that helmet hanging on the bars of one scooter and nipped off for another spin on his favourite, while I dealt with some other customers. What happened next is hazy, as it happened fast and he couldn’t remember a damn thing afterwards, but we think he hit a pothole and took a hell of a dive, landing on his forehead, probably knocked himself out, and put a dent in his plans for anything other than lying in a hospital bed for the night at least. He could have avoided all this by properly wearing a helmet. This is how:
- Wear it. Even wearing it badly is way better that not wearing it at all!
- Wear it forwards on your head. You look stupid with it balanced on the back of your head. It isn’t a skullcap. Wear it to protect your forehead!
Consider a full-face helmet (especially if you ride a speedy scooter)
Bicycle-grade helmets are designed for bike speeds. They need to meet a safety standard that is relevant to travelling by bicycle. But sports scooters are hitting higher top speeds and greater average speeds than pedal-only bikes achieve (shaven-legged human sports freaks excepted) and you would be wise to consider something designed more for downhill mountain biking (where the chances of hitting a tree with your face are pretty decent), or even a full motorcycle number (much cheaper than a decent MTB helmet, and warm and cosy in winter, too!)
MTB Downhill helmet Motorcycle helmet
What other gear do I need?
For me, gloves and enclosed shoes are a minimum. You can have an ‘off’ at lowish speed, in fact, you probably will, and trying to bail whilst doing the jandal-slap run, or dropping a soft pink palm onto the gravel to break your fall, are not going to be highlights of your day. Yes, it’s a bit warm in mid-summer, but you don’t want to be bandage-boy (or babe) at the BBQ, do you?
Blimey. Anything else?
That depends on your personal tolerance to risk, and the level of exposure to it you are prepared to display. Put it this way. If you are a bit of a slowcoach, pottering along on the pavement at 15km/h down to the shop for some milk, you probably don’t need to go overboard. But if you commute 10km to work each day by scooter, weaving through the traffic, gunning it at orange lights, hopping off curbs….(you know who you are!), then why not set yourself up for success and take a few extra precautions. These could include:
- Armoured hoodie. They are a thing now. Casual look and serious protection.
- Motorcycle jacket. We have a few customers riding in these. Waterproof, padded elbows and back, warm, reassuring….
- Knee pads / elbow pads / chest protector. Increasing popular especially for more sports-based riding and off-road, and kids on scooters. The same sort of stuff mountain bikers and BMXers/skaters wear.
So I have all the gear. Now what?
Now, check your scooter thoroughly. Every day is probably excessive, but pay attention to any changes. Does the steering feel sloppy? Are the tyres soft? Do the brakes still top you quickly? These are the main things to look out for. Whip out a multi-tool and tighten up a few bolts. Pump those tyres (which stops punctures, too), tighten those brakes. There was a sad scooter fatality in London early in 2020 and the contributing cause was a soft front tyre. Then a bus. The correct pressure is printed on the side of the tyre. No excuses.
A note on suitability
Buy, and ride, within your limitations. If your balance isn’t the best, buy a wide and stable scooter. If you are a bit accident-prone, go slow. If you are bit of a nutter, maybe don’t buy the fastest electric scooter you can, it will no doubt all end in tears. If you are buying for someone else, especially kids, these all count double. An adult electric scooter isn’t designed for kids, and it’s not a toy. Treat it with respect.
Any reputable scooter dealer, should offer buyer consultation both online, by phone and in-store. They should discuss all factors contributing to selecting the right electric scooter model, and steer you towards the ones that are best for you.