Manawatu Guardian - 2021-11-25


Moving with the times


Brent Barrett Brent Barrett

Ididn’t expect to be falling in love, yet here I was. Smitten while gliding. The romance started in the most innocent of ways. A casually announced arrival of new players in the market for my urban transport affections. No, not ever bigger utes. The e-scooter services from Flamingo, Beam and Lime. To be clear, I wasn’t looking for love. I was years into a trusting transport relationship with my e-bike and bus routine, using our zippy car for longer trips or larger loads. I’d no desire to venture out. Certainly no intentions for anything more than a quick taste. As e-scooter arrival day neared, I made a plan. To ensure as your city councillor I was well informed of transport trends, I’d take one short e-scooter journey before resuming my routine. The day arrived. Quietly, I snuck past my e-bike as it sat charged and waiting. Giving our car the slip, I ambled along the street, following an app’s map to a waiting e-scooter. Tap tap, unlocked and away we went. Like an awkwardly nervous first date, I stood rigid, easing the accelerator as this tiny patch of magic carpet moved the earth beneath me. A bit of bumpy ground and I found a very slight flex of the knees made the journey much more pleasant. From that moment of discovery, I glided along, easily finding paths of least resistance. Between often quiet neighbourhood streets, our patchwork of bike lanes, shared paths and endowment of wide footpaths, it all came together quite naturally. With a careful eye, and at courteous speeds, I could easily pick a path for my journey while enjoying the views and sensations along the way. That one quick test run turned into weeks of happy journeys. A small backpack to accessorise and I’d arrive at work with laptop and lunch, and back home with a library book or a few groceries. All the while, spring was clearly making its presence felt. As they say, love is in the air. When aboard a Flamingo I first swept along a honeysuckle patch, its sweet vapours filling my senses. There was no turning back. Zipping along in the spring air, free of the cumbersome car, cruising without delay in a small city beginning to clog with congestion. Yes, some days a journey might take a minute longer, but when the roads are busy the e-scooter overtakes even the fastest car, with guaranteed parking and no security worries at journey’s end. No trouble if the e-scooter gets moved while I’m between rides, the app’s map quickly finds me another within easy walking distance. Of course, it wasn’t all perfect at first. For my budget-conscious soul, the speed at which 45c a minute stacked up risked breaking my heart, and the bank. Luckily I discovered a subscription plan, easy like a phone plan. One tap and the rate would drop to just 5c a minute. It was all coming together. But, of course, a plan was a big step, a commitment. No mere trifle of curiosity before returning to my loyal e-bike and bus. Far from it. Signing on to a plan was making shared mobility a part of my forever future. As my finger hovered near the subscribe button, I saw how low-cost flexibility and ease spiced with a bit of exercise and fun was on the cusp of vaulting a curiosity into my personal transport team’s top tier. Happy days ahead danced in my mind, zipping along the path of least resistance, enjoying the fresh air, skipping the congestion and the parking. Tap tap, I said yes. is an environmental advocate, city councillor and scientist. The views expressed here are his own.


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