Scooting off to try Canberra’s newest craze

Lottie Twyford 16 October 2020 56
The Neutron scooter. Photo: Michelle Kroll.

Buckle up. Lottie Twyford taking the Neuron scooter for another spin. Photo: Michelle Kroll.

You’ve seen them around town – Neuron’s unmissable bright orange e-scooters – and now they are being joined by Beam’s purple fleet, but have you been brave enough to take one on?

For me, a decided lack of enthusiasm for the walk home after an evening out in Braddon (coupled with my clearly relentless pursuit of public interest journalism) was enough of an excuse to hop on.

Given that as a child I was a weapon on my Razor with light-up wheels, I consider myself to be a strong scooter-er and so confidently led my friends towards the orange fleet.

This was perhaps where our first hurdle arose: three scooters, five friends and not a lot of patience between us.

What followed was a determined five-minute search around Lonsdale and surrounding streets until we could find another two N3s. Hindsight is a beautiful thing. Had we downloaded the app earlier, technology could have found them for us.

The Neuron app

The Neuron app makes getting started on a scooter easy. Photo: Michelle Kroll.

After a brief fumble downloading the app, involving a hot-spot for the perpetually out-of-data friend (me), we sent through our obligatory selfies in our helmets and were on our way.

A lot of yelping and whooping ensued, despite our embarrassingly slow pace along a rather busy Lonsdale St. The scooters have a maximum speed limit of 25 km/h, but when there are people around, it’s best to go a little slower.

The initial shock for me, as a fairly clumsy person, was that on a normal scooter you brake by putting your foot down on the rear fender. Try this on an electric scooter and – as I found out – you’re likely to get both a shock and a sore foot. Nor does it help to smack your foot down on the pavement while travelling at speed.

The other thing to watch out for are bumpy roads. E-scooters work much better on smooth pavements, making the path around Lake Burley Griffin a perfect training ground, but Northbourne Avenue in the dark is a little trickier to navigate.

Luckily for all of us, we made it home without any serious injuries – just some damaged pride. The most important question on our minds after the ride home was, obviously, does anybody look good in a helmet?

READ ALSO: E-scooter sharing scheme rides into Canberra

The scooters have clearly been very popular. Neuron’s app has already been downloaded by more than 18,000 Canberrans. For some, they provide a way to beat your PB on the Bridge to Bridge walk, to get to work on time or undertake short legs of longer journeys on public transport.

A ride is also unlikely to put you out of pocket. It costs only $1 to unlock the scooter and then 38 cents per minute. A subscription service also exists if you see yourself as a frequent user.

In many other countries, the introduction of e-scooters led to vandalism and more scooters in rivers than on the streets. Yet Neuron claims, at this stage, Lake Burley Griffin remains scooter-free and there have been no serious accidents in Canberra.

To verify safe parking, after use, a picture has to be uploaded to the app so that Neuron can check all is well.

You can also share your journey with friends or family so that if an accident does occur, someone knows where you are. In case of a fall, there is an emergency button to push.

According to Neuron, although it has only put 750 of these scooters out on the streets, 75 local jobs have already been created to sanitise and maintain the fleet.

Beam put another 750 scooters on the streets this week and is currently not charging any unlocking fees but they do charge 45 cents per minute to ride. It is free to park in any of the designated parking spots, otherwise, it will set you back a further $1.

Beam e-scooters

Beam e-scooters at Ainslie Place in Civic. Photo: Photox – Canberra Photography Services.

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56 Responses to Scooting off to try Canberra’s newest craze
Carlos Wallace Carlos Wallace 8:29 pm 19 Oct 20

Everything is dangerous to everyone in 2020. I'm just happy to see people and families out and about smiling. You can't wrap yourself in cottonwool your while life.

Souhair Naoum Souhair Naoum 6:09 pm 19 Oct 20

Such a dangerous idea I haven't seen one teen or adult wearing the hulmet. So ofcours my teen want to try one and he is clumsily at the best times, but will not wear the hulmet. Danger to walker and riders, who by law they have to wear hulmet.

Julie Macklin Julie Macklin 12:57 pm 19 Oct 20

I was cycling near the lake yesterday and their were lots of scooters about. They could be a good idea, but unfortunately most of those riding them yesterday were underage teenage boys. They appeared at times not to be aware of basic road rules (which also apply to the shared paths) such as keep left. They were more toys to them then the transport option they are supposed to be. They were sure having fun. With many parents always driving their children to school these days, I would be surprised if these teens have much road/path experience, so they are getting on the scooters without much experience of road or path rules.

Virginia Loizou Virginia Loizou 8:31 am 19 Oct 20

Does the government have public liability insurance for them ? So many accidents or near misses with pedestrians.

    Brenton Higgins Brenton Higgins 6:21 pm 19 Oct 20

    What has it got to do with the government Virginia? It’s a private company that runs them....

    Honestly it gobsmacking me how some people in Canberra just wanna blame the government for everything...

    Virginia Loizou Virginia Loizou 7:01 pm 19 Oct 20

    Brenton Higgins , my understanding mate is the government in conjunction with the local Company operators. Both have responsibilities. Do mate not blaming anyone

    Brenton Higgins Brenton Higgins 8:38 pm 19 Oct 20

    Not in the slightest - the extent of act gov involvement was they opened an EOI for two operators. No govt involvement other than granting permission for two companies. You can read it on the tenders website.


Elizabeth Izatt Elizabeth Izatt 7:14 am 19 Oct 20

Another item to end up in out lakes and dumped on the streets

Flavius Valerius Constantinus Flavius Valerius Constantinus 8:49 pm 18 Oct 20

1 Dollar to unlock and 38 cents PER MINUTE?? No, thanks.

    Brenton Higgins Brenton Higgins 6:20 pm 19 Oct 20

    They have a day pass for $8. I don’t mind them - bit of fun.

    Steven Harris Steven Harris 8:26 pm 19 Oct 20

    Also be aware that lots of places are speed limited but you still get slugged the same per minute rate. IMO the rate should drop with the speed limit.

    That said I've been using it to get from the car park in Russell to Anzac Park West,. If there is a scooter there it's cheaper and more convenient than two stops on the bus.

James Falzon James Falzon 7:38 pm 18 Oct 20

They seem to be modern litter. Literally abandoned all over the city.Can they float in BG ?

Catherine Higgins Catherine Higgins 6:20 pm 18 Oct 20

Yes Kate they r overly expensive, dangerous and litter causing (and run by Singaporean companies with expensive rates)

People should just buy a bike or scooter and just own it!!! Back to the 1970s I say!

Aram Kim Aram Kim 6:14 pm 18 Oct 20

Tanya Nuong Le after work riding👌👌

    Tanya Nuong Le Tanya Nuong Le 6:18 pm 18 Oct 20

    Aram Kim so funnnnnn and so convenient 🙌🙌

Chloe Paton Chloe Paton 4:34 pm 18 Oct 20

Me and my bf tried the purple ones and we put our phones in the phone holders and now my bfs phone is completely unusable and mine is cracked so don't use the phone holders 😡

Karen Nelapati Karen Nelapati 3:28 pm 18 Oct 20

Lottie Twyford scoot scoot, ur so cute x

Brooke Sturgiss Brooke Sturgiss 1:59 pm 18 Oct 20

Shannon Sturgiss mums scooter 😂

Kate Rhook Kate Rhook 1:41 pm 18 Oct 20

Why are we seeing them dumped in random places?

    Julio Franco Julio Franco 3:16 pm 18 Oct 20

    Kate Rhook, that’s exactly why a lot of cities around the world decided to ban them.

Alex Paech Alex Paech 11:55 am 18 Oct 20

Dannielle Quodling thought this was you

Gareth Holdom Gareth Holdom 11:28 am 18 Oct 20

Saw 5 of them abandoned on Ginninderra drive...

Victoria Hill Victoria Hill 11:18 am 18 Oct 20

Are we, the taxpayers, having to pay for all the injuries that have happened all ready ?

    Brenton Higgins Brenton Higgins 6:19 pm 19 Oct 20

    No. They are a private company?

    Victoria Hill Victoria Hill 6:24 pm 19 Oct 20

    So , if you fall off the scooter and break a bone you can get compensation for all the medical costs from the company that owns them ?

    Brenton Higgins Brenton Higgins 6:44 pm 19 Oct 20

    That’s generally how PLI works...

Clarissa Ng Clarissa Ng 10:40 am 18 Oct 20

Hate. I saw some kidults (and I don’t mean it in a cute way) speeding down on those against traffic near the foreshore. Helmets unbuckled. Jumping on and off curbs like they’re on skateboards. I’m waiting for the day that they are banned on footpaths and they’re made to follow traffic rules. Or junk them altogether...more pollution to the earth.

Kriso Hadskini Kriso Hadskini 9:37 am 18 Oct 20

I expect people enjoying the first ride or two then seeing them litter the inner suburbs for years. They definately need to be properly docked for the sake of people with disablilties who find it hard enough to navigate the footpaths as they are, let alone with escooters left wherever as well.

Kathryn Mitchell Kathryn Mitchell 9:36 am 18 Oct 20

Are they powered and if so, how do they recharge? Do they need to be returned to a charging station??

Russell Nankervis Russell Nankervis 9:23 am 18 Oct 20

My idea as to why they are so popular is that you don't have to pedal as with the other bikes

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