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Horses for Courses: Push Scooter Imaginings

If I was Czech I wouldn't have to say what I'm about to say, because if I was Czech we'd all be scooter literate and accept two wheel push scooter-ing as a kosher mode of transport.

No questions asked.

The Czech Republic is Scoot Central.

I don't know the ratio between scooters and pedal bicycles in that land  but the demographic -- and the cultural difference -- would warrant some comparison to our own bike frenziness.

Australians are buying bicycles like crazy  at a rate that outstrip car purchases -- 1.4 million bicycles were sold in 2010. -- but as Professor Chris Rissel ponts out:
The Australian population grew by 58% between 1986 and 2006 and the daily average number of bicycle trips grew by only 21%, representing a net decline in cycling.
The major single factor in this is probably mandatory helmet laws which may have reduced cycle use by a factor of 30-40% .

From my , albeit eccentric, POV, people often purchase bicycles for the various  reasons  and then don't use them as they had assumed they would. Bikes are often seen as recreational vehicles  without much utility function.

Indeed much of the retail cycle trade is generated among models for children.

But let's say I wanted to get out of my car  -- indeed become less car dependent overall in my day-to-day -- and cycle.

Since I don't drive, this is an easy one for me. It is also why I scoot.

Who scoot when you can pedal?

The Yedoo company -- Czech scooter manufacturers -- offers a short meditation on scooting that I think holds up quite well:
  • All Parts of the Body are Involved Equally Scooter riding is a complex movement in which not only lower and upper limb muscles, but also abdominal and back muscles are involved. And since all parts of your body actively work when you ride a scooter, you can practice scooter riding even in cold weather conditions without the risk of becoming ill. 
  •  A Remedy That Relieves Back and Joints Pain When riding a scooter you perfectly stretch and relax your back muscles. Scooter riding is recommended by physiotherapists as additional physiotherapy exercise as well as prevention of neck and hip bones pain. Moreover, it does not cause joints damage. 
  •  Effective Weight Loss When riding on a scooter you burn up to 30% more energy that when cycling and easily shape the problematic parts of your body – thighs, buttocks, hips, belly and waist. Scooter riding is as energetically demanding as aerobic or fast running. Moreover, it’s fun! But don’t forget to change feet regularly.
  • Perfect Mode of Urban Transport You can hardly find a better mode of transport in an overcrowded city full of various obstructions. You can ride shorter distances on your scooter faster than on a bike or on foot. You will reach your destination in a shorter period of time than if you go by the urban public transport sometimes. Due to the fact that a scooter has no pedals and due to its smaller size and lighter weight, it is easier to handle and more storable that a bicycle, for example. You can usually travel with your scooter by a tram, a bus or a metro without any problem. 
  •  Perfectly Elegant There is no need to worry about losing any of your style or elegance when riding a scooter. In fact, it is quite the reverse, since the scooter may be considered a stylish accessory. Women and girls may ride their scooter wearing a dress or skirt, while male riders do not have to worry about tearing the trousers or creasing the suit.  
  • Storable and Practical You can easily store your scooter into a trunk of a car or a lift, you may store it on the balcony, for example. You can transport your handbag, backpack or your shopping bag in the handlebar basket. Mums will definitely appreciate that they can fix the child seat on the handlebar and thus have their child under control when riding. Children will get a much better view and will thus enjoy the ride much more. 
  •  Low Purchase Price and Easy Maintenance You can buy three scooters for the same price for which you buy a bicycle of the same quality. Moreover, since there are only few parts that might get broken, the maintenance of a scooter is quite easy. Generally, you will manage with a bike pump and pre-season service.
  • Environmentally-Friendly and Economic Mode of Transport Scooter riding combines healthy lifestyle and a responsible attitude towards the environment. Scooters as a means of transport do not pollute the environment by exhaust fumes or noise. 
  • Joy and Entertainment Scooter riding is, above all, great fun! Whether you are training on the scooter, relaxing, walking your dog, or using your scooter as a mode of transport to get to school or work, it will bring you joy and pleasure. Click here to read the stories of persons who have literally become addicted to scooter riding.
The above is via Google Translate but you are sure to get the drift.

I have arguments with my son about scooters and in his shift to a two wheel upgrade -- from a BMX --  he chose a pedal bicycle to get him to and from work. But I told him two things which are I-told-you-so things:
  1. Scooters are a great fit for public transport especially folding scooters . They are easily portaged in and out of train carriages and up stairs. Their slim, no pedal outline, sits well among any nest of crowded commuters.
  2. Scooters handle footpaths  qualitatively much better than bicycles.You have much more control over what you do especially with pedestrians, kids, prams and dogs sharing the pathway. In fact the only bike injuries I have sustained  in my life have been riding pedal bicycles on footpaths. From a saddle it's a long way to the ground. (I've been hit by cars but there have been no injuries to my person).
On  a scooter I'm an opportunistic rider. I use both road and footpath depending on the typography, surface and traffic conditions.  When riding on footpaths I'm often jumping on and off the scooter to negotiate around people and over bumps, gutters and tree roots at a speed just above jogging pace. 

This way I can move very quickly across an urban environment.

Two Wheels

In fast moving traffic a scooter is not so much at home as you can't keep up with the  flow, and jumping off and on isn't de riguer. But in light traffic, in congested traffic or in slow moving peak hour a scooter is a very responsive means to a destination.

Of course scooters don't possess a gearing ratio. There is no engineering on your side save gravity and two wheels. That means they won't climb so easily unless you invest extra energy to push the scooter up a hill. However, the smaller the  wheel diameter of the scooter, up to a sweet point,  the better your scooter will climb. There is a happy diameter  between 12  and 20 inches that will facilitate your uphill quest. Smaller or bigger and bad karma physics seem to intervene. 

My  Folding Mibo with 12 inch wheels climbs superbly. My Kickbike with a 26 inch diameter front wheel, lags  when pushed upward over steep contours.  But on the flat it out performs my Mibo. 

You'll note that the Yedoo folk mention scooter price in their check list.
 "You can buy three scooters for the same price for which you buy a bicycle of the same quality. "
That's an advantage not only for your transport budget but it also gives you the option to purchase more than one scooter and still shell out less dough than buying 'a' pedal bicycle.

I have two scooters because I use each of them differently. One folds. The other doesn't. One is a racer/trainer. The other is a nifty commute. One will carry heaps of shopping, the other travels best light. Only one will fit in a car boot (folded  I can carry it any where)....

I mention this because I'm thinking of getting another scooter  -- one for off road use. Where I live butts onto superb mountain biking country and I'm getting envious. What I have to work out is whether a scooter can handle the terrain I  am keen to tackle.

Would the Yedoo Mezeq? (pictured above).

Downhill it would work a treat, but in sand dunes, over saddlebacks and ridges, along  eroded gullies, over logging tracks...? I'm not so sure as uphill is gonna be a hard ask.

Of course the other problem is that the scooters I'm talking about -- other than the Kickbike -- are not available in Australia. You can get a Yedoo in New Zealand...but it  is too expensive to import one across The Ditch.  So you need to deal with the Czechs direct and language can be a problem...although Yedoo is English speaker friendly. Mibo ain't.

So I'm considering what's what....and for now I'm imagining.



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