e-Scooters are coming to London next month – we did a tour with ScooTours London in Cambridge for you

Last Saturday, Ellie & I did a two-hour e-scooter tour with ScooTours London in Cambridge. From next month you will be able to legally hire and ride an e-scooter in London, so we thought we’d check it out. In case you were wondering: until then it is illegal to ride an e-scooter on public roads here.

It’s easier for cyclists

Let’s start this blog post with a quick flashback to a bicycle tour Ellie and I had ventured on several years ago. It was the first and last time we’d been riding bikes together. While I had grown up in bicycle-obsessed Germany, Ellie had not ridden a bike in over a decade, so kudos to her for trying. The short of it: out of the 35km distance we walked roughly 35km. Ellie was a tad scared of falling off the bike. To this day it is one of the longest distances either of us ever walked in one day.

 

Riding an e-scooter is much easier if you frequently ride other vehicles that require a good sense of balance, like regular scooters, motor scooters, bicycles, or motorbikes. Even inline skating would make a difference.

Ellie never felt comfortable on the e-scooter, but that’s largely down to her. She did always feel safe and never fell off, but the experience was definitely not for her. This review will focus on my experience, which I believe to be more representative of the average person who’ll hire an e-scooter.

 

Covid and safety briefing, first few instructions

Alex, one of the two founders and owners of ScooTours London greeted us at the meeting point, where he had already secured (but not yet hired) two e-scooters. He immediately made us feel at ease by explaining how we’ll have all the time we need to warm up on the tiny quiet side road we were on. We could always skip a few parts of the tour to make up for the time spent familiarising ourselves with the little two-wheeled thingies.

 

Hiring the e-scooter and doing practice rounds

Next up: we used the Voi app, which we had been asked to download and link with our credit cards ahead of time, to hire our scooters. It’s very straight-forward, once you’ve started using the personal hotspot of someone in the group (here: Alex) with decent internet connection. During most of the tour, neither Ellie nor I had a good connection, while Alex’s was constantly working fine. We are using Three. Usually it does not let us down, but in Cambridge it certainly did.

 

You’ll be up to speed in no time

Having seen many crashes and near-crashes of e-scooters in Germany, where it seems impossible to walk through a major city without a dozen of them passing by you at mind-blowing speeds, I’ll openly admit I was a bit intimidated at first. However, after just one or two minutes I realised it’s incredibly easy and exhilarating to ride one of those toys. For the first few minutes I struggled doing low-speed tight corners, but that was it.

The Tour

Alex did a great job in keeping the tour light and breezy. It was a bit unfair on him that Ellie & I had done several Cambridge sightseeing tours before and know the town reasonably well. But even taking all that into account, I would say that there are possibly one or (if you look very hard) two tours out there that are slightly more attractive in terms of the sightseeing (and only in terms of that).

That said, I certainly learned a few things I had not known before. I found the tour entertaining. I would recommend ScooTours not so much for deep insights or extraordinary story telling. I’d recommend them as a way of familiarising yourself with an e-scooter. You can learn how to ride one in a somewhat controlled environment. It’s also an extremely fun and convenient way to make your way from sight to sight and explore a new city.

Instructions

The guidance from Alex on how to learn to ride an e-scooter was – as expected – not involving a lot of ground-breaking advice or surprises. I had done the 20-minute Voi tutorial online, so knew everything that was mentioned already. But I absolutely mean it when I say I much preferred doing my first ride as part of this tour, rather than on my own.

Avoiding traffic

ScooTours London are great at putting your mind at rest, boosting your confidence, taking any pressure off you, and at choosing a route that avoids fast traffic nearly entirely. Quite a feat! They are the ones who secured two fully-charged, well-maintained scooters, and who kept track of time.

Three sucks, but three e-scooter hires in two hours is no worry

Twice during the tour we had to ‘end’ the scooter ride and ‘start a new hire’. This is because the very affordable £9.90 hiring fee for 24 hours only covers rides of up to 45 minutes. You can do as many 45-minute rides as you can squeeze into 24 hours, but you’ll be charged extra for every minute you exceed the 45-minute maximum time span on each ride.

Coming to London next month

In Cambridge, Voi started hiring out e-scooters to the general public many months before ScooTours London started offering their tours there. In London ScooTours will start offering their services at nearly the same time when e-scooter hire becomes available for the first time.

I might do this again in London

We recommend booking a tour with them before you start venturing out on your own. The Cambridge tour costs £30, the London tour £37. Both include e-scooter hire. Reasonably good value. 3.75 out of 5 in our book. Tours start on June 19.

E-scooter hire will be available from June 7 in five London boroughs: Ealing, Hammersmith and Fulham, Kensington and Chelsea, Richmond, and the City of London. You will still be allowed to travel through other boroughs on your ride. You simply won’t be permitted to drop off your hired e-scooter there, and there will be no pick-up points. The trial is scheduled to last for one year. I’m 100% convinced e-scooters will stay. What are your thoughts? Interested in your comments.

Looking for more posts about fun things to do in and around London? Check out our posts about stand up paddle boarding, hiking, motocrossing, skydiving, off-roading, and driving supercars around a racetrack.

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22 Comments

  1. E-Scooters are so much fun and glad to know that they are hitting the roads soon. Loved this post and the whole experience you had with ScooTours London. E-Schooters are eco-friendly, less expensive and also good with the health quotient. Thus a great lifestyle change that promotes quick and easy transit especially short travels and is so much exciting than a sheer walk. Pictures with the city backdrop are lovely!

  2. Definitely a practical way to get around. They’re huge back in Brisbane and we saw some down in Florida – places where you get sweaty walking everywhere. I imagine they’d make it easier to see more in a short time frame.

    1. Yes, I absolutely agree, guys. I’m glad that they capped the speed here in the UK at 20mph or even slower for now. In Germany they shoot past by you left right and centre almost breaking the sound barrier…

  3. Wow! 35 kilometers in a day? That’s like a long day on the Camino! I’m glad the scooters went better than the bikes. (Though I can completely relate with Ellie. I’m nervous on all things with wheels!) Thanks for the tips. Maybe I’ll go for a scoot in London!

    1. Thank you for the nice comment, Jen. Yes, those 35km were quite a distance to walk. I remember reading your posts about the Camino. 35km up and down would be an enormous challenge, too much for us, by about 20km haha.. 🙂

  4. You guys sure are adventurous 🙂 love reading your stories. Never been to Cambridge and I don’t think a scooter would be my first choice. But probably not a bad idea if you’ve done several Cambridge tours already!

    1. Thank you, Lannie. 🙂 Yes, probably not our first choice either for sightseeing, but great introduction to riding e-scooters, as in a kind of controlled environment with instructor/guide.

  5. I’m definitely with Ellie – I don’t think I’d enjoy it much either! I can definitely see this sort of tour taking off but I’d have to try it in a quiet park instead

    1. Haha… you’re normally not queasy with all your world travels and adventures, Lucy, I’m surprised. 🙂 But point taken and agree for the most part: I found it very fun and do find it convenient, but I would never actually buy one and ride it through rush our traffic in a place like London.. way too hectic. 🙂 🙂

    1. Aaarrw thx guys! Yes, very fun way to get around and really looking forward to them arriving in London, even though we’ll probably only use them every now and then and stick with the tube, walking or cycling for the majority of A2Bs.. 🙂

    1. Oh.. yes.. I can see how the well-organised Swiss would’ve done a thorough job introducing e-scooters without major mayhem ensuing haha… I loved riding an e-scooter too. Will hire them on my own every now and then once they’re available here.

  6. I’ve seen escooters for rent (and have witnessed a few crashes ), but didn’t realize they offered tours. That would be a unique way to see London (if you have good balance).

    1. Yes, Karen, really unique way to do some sightseeing. I guess for us it was mainly learning how to use one in a controlled environment though (even though tour itself was fun too). 🙂

  7. I definitely want to give them a try but I’m not a big fan of them on the roads. Or maybe it’s the people using them who shouldn’t be on the roads. They aren’t legal here yet, but doesn’t stop loads of people using them. I guess there’s been some nasty accidents with them in Germany.

    Though I’d happily do a tour in a pedestrianised area.

    1. Thank you for the thoughtful comment, John. Actually, I should make that clearer in the post. It’s illegal to ride those scooters in pedestrianised areas, on sidewalks, or walking paths. Here as part of the London pilot anyway. You’re only allowed to use them on roads and bicycle paths.

      I totally agree with you that there are many issues and that a lot of the people riging scooters shouldn’t be allowed to command any vehicle. I’m getting the impression, though, that they’re taking a very good approach here in London with very low maximum speed, very limited pilot, etc.

      I think you’d probably enjoy the tour, even though you’ll have to walk through any pedestrianised areas while pushing your scooter. 🙂 🙂 🙂

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