Pros and Cons to commuting via kick scooter?
July 11, 2011 8:47 AM   Subscribe

Does anyone out there use a kick scooter to commute? What are the benefits and challenges?

I live and work in Washington, DC, but this likely applies to any metro area. I live about 3 miles from the office, and I try to commute in the healthiest way possible (healthy for both me and the planet). I walk on very nice days (it is over an hour or so walk) and take the bus on bad days (it is about an hour bus ride, depending on traffic). In the Fall (when it is not as hot) I plan to ride my bike more frequently, but unfortunately as progressive as DC is for being bike-friendly, there are just not that many bike-friendly streets between my home and my office.

So, I was thinking of purchasing a kick scooter for something faster than a walk, but easier to ride on sidewalks and such than a bike.

(Inspired by the wife in “No Impact Man”, FYI)
posted by LittleFuzzy to Travel & Transportation (13 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I've never done it, but I've seen a lot of people in Europe do it, even in major cities like Berlin and Paris. Seeing men in business suits rolling around town on kick scooters invariably makes me happy.
posted by naturalog at 8:52 AM on July 11, 2011 [1 favorite]

It's not just for Europe! I see people in Chicago kick-scooting around on the sidewalks during rush hours and lunchtime all the time. Not a lot of people, and (I think) they all look a little silly, but they're out there. As long as you're cool with being a little unusual, go for it.
posted by phunniemee at 9:08 AM on July 11, 2011

If you want one, you'll need something bigger than a Razor, which are proportioned for children. I had a Xootr for several years and was very pleased with it.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 9:10 AM on July 11, 2011

I used to do this for a couple of years - took the train then scooted the remaining mile or so. A folding scooter is easy to bring on public transit, so maybe you can combine bus and scooter to save a little time or dodge bad weather.

The problem I had was that it killed my knees. I was always bobbing into a slight crouch and knees don't like to bear more-or-less static load in that position (at least mine didn't). After a while I had to give up the scooter, but YMMV - I have bad knees to begin with.

I sort of enjoyed being the eccentric middle-aged lady on the scooter - again, YMMV.
posted by Quietgal at 9:15 AM on July 11, 2011

I used to ride a xootr for my commute. I had some problems that eventually led me to tearing it down to parts and throwing it out.

Mine had neither front nor rear brake. I could drag my shoe on the rear wheel for braking but that left a huge groove in my shoes. The weight distribution for scooters puts your center of gravity high and up front. I face planted several times by hitting very minor sidewalk bumps. Once I fell and didn't see anything on the sidewalk that explained it.

I don't recommend it but it's not a terrible idea.
posted by chairface at 9:17 AM on July 11, 2011

Oh god. Don't whatever you do lift it straight up and allow the wheeled part to swing round and hit you in the ankle bone. Carry it ANY WAY YOU LIKE but not that way.

Remembering the pain of the day I did this may cause me to need PTSD counselling again.
posted by greenish at 9:40 AM on July 11, 2011 [1 favorite]

I use a Xootr, in NYC. I go slowly and try to stand in a position that is straight and relaxed, to keep it easy on the knees. I also try to switch legs, with limited success. I had a sore back after the first foray and after that, it's been great. I love the street-level gliding that it affords. Taking my time has been key in keeping me from crashing or falling (my scooter also has a handbrake, which I highly recommend).

I see a fair number of adults scooting (many without helmets, which I find mind-boggling--or is that brain-smushing?), some on the sidewalks and some in the bike lanes.

See if you can find a place that will rent you one for a weekend before you buy one. A xootr is not cheap (but much better for regular commuting, I'd say).

Also, seconding greenish's "don't let it swing freely while you carry it" comment. A friend of a friend broke his kneecap through incautious scooter-schlepping.
posted by aimeedee at 10:27 AM on July 11, 2011 [2 favorites]

Another thing: for mellow scooting I don't think you need a helmet but if you're an aggressive rider or daredevil, wear a lid and who cares how dorky you look - you're already on a scooter fercrissakes.

But I always wore hand-sliders like these, which are not wrist braces and leave your fingers free. What they do is make your hands slide over the pavement when you wipe out and stick your arms out to break your fall. Bare hands or regular gloves catch on pavement and you can break an arm or wrist (not to mention developing some nasty road rash), but the theory is that by skidding along, you dissipate enough momentum to not actually bust anything on your way to a complete stop.

I don't see much discussion of these online but I can vouch for their effectiveness. I wiped out once when something caught in a wheel and I kept going after the scooter stopped. I didn't break anything, which for a klutz like me is a testimonial to good product design.

Unfortunately I was carrying my laptop in my backpack, and the backpack kept going after I stopped and slammed my face into the sidewalk. I distinctly remember the second thump after hitting the ground, and I'm quite sure that without a heavy backpack I would not have ended up with two shiners the day before a job interview.

I got the job anyway - I guess they didn't hire me for my looks.

posted by Quietgal at 11:19 AM on July 11, 2011 [2 favorites]

With a Razor scooter, the wheels are so small that you are going to feel every single bump on the sidewalk (unless the bump is too big, and then you can't get over it). It looks like the Xootr is better than the Razor is this regard.
posted by oceano at 12:18 PM on July 11, 2011

I wouldn't commute a distance longer than a mile on a scooter. And not if there any hills involved. The reason is that I find scooters to be too exerting. I think they are ideal for distances of a few blocks, on good, clean sidewalks/trails only.
posted by 2N2222 at 12:56 PM on July 11, 2011

I used to do a 2-mile commute on a Xootr and had no trouble with it. You do want to be sure to alternate which leg you're standing on and which you're pushing with, and be aware that when riding a kick scooter you're essentially doing one-legged quarter squats over and over and over and over. Once you get past the first few days, when your quads will be screaming at you about the increased activity, it's great for leg strength.

One warning warning BIG OL' WARNING about the Xootr: Whatever material it is that the wheels are made of, it develops negative traction when wet. You do NOT want to try to ride a Xootr in the rain.

And definitely Xootr over Razor. The larger wheels make a big difference.
posted by Lexica at 1:34 PM on July 11, 2011

Another eccentric middle-aged lady scooter rider here - here's mine - highly recommended, and nthing change your kicking leg while riding. Mine has a rear 'brake' - standing on the fender basically - but the wheels are really big so it's much more stable than a little one.
posted by mgrrl at 3:14 PM on July 11, 2011

oops with link this time my scooter
posted by mgrrl at 3:16 PM on July 11, 2011

« Older Quietly traveling the world.   |   Can I be stressed out without knowing it?knowing Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.