I am a scooter commuter, meaning my travel to and from work every day is both easy and a lot of fun! Maybe you’ve seen me kicking my way across Capitol Hill, or making my way to Union Station.
To be clear, I’m not talking about cruising around on a Vespa or some other motorized vehicle. It’s all leg power as I propel myself on what resembles a two-wheeled skateboard with handlebars.
Little things had been pushing me toward this particular (and unusual) mode of transportation for a while: I had a coworker who used one, and I enjoyed riding my kid’s scooter (all hunched over) when he was too tired to make it up hills.
The real catalyst, though, was a building renovation at work: I found myself moved to a satellite office, just over a mile from the main office and conference room. Meetings that were once right around the corner were now a 20 minute walk away.
I knew there had to be a faster way to travel between offices. Using CaBi or my own bike were inconvenient options, skateboards required too much coordination, and roller blades would take too long to put on (also, I couldn’t get over the comical image of myself stumbling in a few minutes late to a meeting wearing them).
Kick scooters, however, had all kinds of potential. They’re light enough to easily carry around and fold, and small enough to fit on the Metro and MARC trains, under a table, and through the bag scanners at the entrance to my building.
Here’s some info on buying a scooter
It turns out that that a number of companies make adult-sized kick scooters with varying features. Some have inflatable tires, others hard plastic wheels. All have “stomp brakes” in the back, but a few also have hand brakes. Decks come in metal or wood and have different widths.
Unfortunately, there is no easy way to test drive most of these. After reading a number of online reviews, I decided to chance it and buy a high-end brand, with a wide wooden deck, hard wheels, and a hand brake. It is a great scooter and zips along with ease. However, it is not so great on cobblestones and uneven pavement.
This led me to purchase a second scooter with inflatable tires but (sadly) no hand brake. The inflatable tires definitely add resistance and slow down my scooting but handle uneven pavement much better.
For the budget-conscious buyer, this is another popular and much less expensive model, with hard wheels, a narrow deck, and no hand brake.
I’ve had a great experience with the second scooter. I now scoot to and from the train station, as well as between meetings. I quickly learned not to keep keys in my front pocket because the repetitive kicking motion causes them to eat through the fabric, and to be extra careful on wet pavement because braking takes longer.
After five months, I can tell you this: kick scooters offer a good alternative means of transport for short distances. They are light weight, easy to store, and include (free of charge) a great low-impact aerobic workout.