I always used to say when God was giving out balance skills, I was still at the writing stall. Wags might disagree, but that's another story. But then I was told by someone who should know, you can learn to balance. So, that out I used to tell myself fell flat on its face.
When e-scooters appeared in Palmerston North in November I was skeptical. I didn't welcome them as an early birthday present. Instead, I was taken back three years to when my then-partner and I were in Christchurch. He wanted to have a go on a Lime and I managed to unlock the machine. He rode enough for me to get a video but when it came to my turn I couldn't get my second foot off the ground.
Then when we were on the tram we saw the immediate aftermath of a man who had come off an e-scooter on a wet day in Cathedral Square. There was much tut-tutting from those aboard the tram.
When I saw alternative transport advocate Brent Barrett offering to help a Facebook poster learn to use an e-scooter I immediately thought of Judith's Jottings. He was keen but as the day dawned, thankfully cloudy, I was so nervous I felt sick.
I procrastinated as much as I could talking about anything but what I was about to attempt but Brent soon saw through that. He pointed out that I can ride a bike and that requires balance. I tried to engage my logical brain and realised e-scooters are much closer to the ground than bikes. A shorter distance to fall surely equals less pain.
It took me three or four goes and trying different surfaces at He Ara Kotahi before I had the confidence to get my second foot off the ground. Brent advised to push off with the foot you would kick a ball with and put that dominant foot at the front.
Then we discovered I hadn't understood the instruction about the throttle and was pushing the green button that was just a sign. D'oh! Once I gave the e-scooter some power by pressing the lever down I felt more in control. Experimenting with foot position resulted in a side-by-side stance. Brent's tips is to bend your knees a tad.
As I headed towards the food truck and the customer standing in front I was reminded of when I learnt to ride a bike. I'd gone to stay at my friend Elizabeth's house and was riding home on the extensive berm along Riverbank Rd in Whanganui showing off my new skills. Until I crashed into a roadside stall. I don't remember any physical injuries but my pride certainly took a bruising.
I managed to do a U-turn and the food truck customer said not to worry, they'd heard me coming.
Then Brent and I were off on a ride along the shared pathway. We were on Flamingos and, while I was relaxing a smidge, I was still worried about being fling-goed so I was holding on to the handlebars ever so tightly.
Flamingo Technologies is a Wellington company. It has newer and older stock in Palmy. Look for the scooters with front suspension and a double stand.
Brent explained to me how the e-scooter companies make use of technology to limit speeds and where and when you can ride. It's impressive.
Like any form of getting from A to B, you need to be aware of your surroundings and the condition of the surface. My concern we would have a smattering of scooters hanging off the Cuba St pick-up sticks seems to be unfounded. For a small machine they sure are heavy.
Yes, some users are dicks with their parking. Don't be afraid to move or pick up the scooters. Yes, they will start making noise but be a tidy Kiwi. I suggest the companies add signs to the scooters encouraging everyone to stand them up and put them to the side of the footpath. A rear-view mirror and more comfortable handlebar grips would also be great.
But for now, my first successful e-scooter journey is in the rear-view mirror. When I told an adventure-loving friend of my ride she described scootering as standing upright on a fast-moving object. That was me - kind of.