I have seen the future and it is electric! When I say electric I don’t mean like electrically exciting I just mean electric. Why this wasn’t thought about centuries ago I don’t understand but now it’s here we should embrace it and develop it to the maximum. Forget petrol – go green – go electric.
Just last week I tried something that I have never tried before, I rode an electric scooter. “I need to go to the Old City today for an interview and I don’t want to take my car and end up spending hours finding a space, can anyone lend me a scooter,” I asked at the office. “Why not take the new bike?” came the reply. “Do you mean the electric one that nobody has ridden so far?” was my response. It turned out that was exactly the one they were talking about. Why not.
We grabbed a couple of helmets and set out to start the “mean machine.” I have never ridden or driven anything electric before apart from those bumper cars you get in the fairgrounds.
“How do you start the bloody thing?” I asked a colleague who was already in fits of laughter just looking at me sitting on the scooter. Yes, it isn’t really elegant, and is probably not going to pick up any awards for the best design in the near future. I held the brake with one hand, revved the gas with the other and then looked for a starter – I was thinking old school. Nothing happened, the laughter over my shoulder loudened. Actually something was happening I was blasting the horn, well blasting is too strong a word as the horn sounded like a goose laying an egg! And then, quite by mistake, I released the brake and the electric horse lurched forward. I was looking how to turn it on and in fact it had been on the whole time. Cue more laughter from my colleagues who had actually gathered at the offices windows wondering why a good was giving birth outside.
First lesson – electric vehicles are extremely quiet. My colleague jumped on the back and we staggered down the road looking as graceful as Bambi on an ice rink. I revved the hell out the scooter and nothing, complete silence. No vibrating under the seat, no cloud of smoke from the back and no sound.
Second lesson – when riding an electric scooter don’t invite someone on the back. If it was only me on the bike then I might have had half a chance of moving faster than a snail, but I wasn’t alone. Downhill no worries, uphill disaster. “Give it full gas,” commented my passenger. “This is flat out, top speed,” I replied. As we hit the top speed of 18 KPH a pensioner stepped out slightly into the road. Coming back to the first lesson this scooter was silent and the pensioner hadn’t heard us approaching. Fortunately we were moving so slow that the pensioner had time to react and move back. We were going so slow that she could have got out a crossword puzzle and finished it before we reached her. “Let’s make the noise of a scooter when we see people who don’t see us,” I advised my co-pilot. So I would like to take this opportunity to apologise to all the pedestrians who witnessed two idiots screaming like a swarm of bees whilst bumping along on our ugly electric monster. So those are the downsides, its slow and it’s silent. But the positives far outweigh the negatives.
We reached Pile, parked up and later drove back to the office and how much did we spend on petrol – ZERO! I didn’t even have to plug it into the mains to charge up. Apart from losing some self esteem I hadn’t spent a penny. Not only that I hadn’t contributed in any way to global warming, pollution of any kind, including noise pollution. And as there are very few moving parts there is nothing to go wrong. In fact according to the manuals the first service the scooter needs is after 50,000 kilometres. Or put another way almost never. No oil, no petrol, no water, just an extension lead and an electric socket and you are away.
I was willing to overlook the fact that the designer was clearly having a bad day (or was blind drunk) when he created it. The fact that it has the acceleration of an overcrowded number 6 Libertas bus or that I had nearly run down a pensioner – this is the future. It might not have the good looks of a Tesla but it has the same ambition at heart. Think green – think electric!