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
David Hempsted David Hempsted 7:21 am 18 Oct 20

Canberra’s newest piece of pollution

    Chris Vlahos Chris Vlahos 7:44 am 18 Oct 20

    David Hempsted add that its a health risk. All these covid restrictions but a reusable scooter that could spread covid easy has none.

Stas Idowu Stas Idowu 7:30 am 18 Oct 20

they're an eye sore

Joanne O'Dwyer Joanne O'Dwyer 7:31 am 18 Oct 20

Love them! Had so much fun. I’ll be a regular user.

Elias Hallaj Elias Hallaj 7:38 am 18 Oct 20

Saw a couple of guys riding them over gutters and doing tricks with them in the London Circuit car park late last night. They were hammering the scooters and obviously having a lot of fun. But expect they won’t last long if that kind of use/abuse continues.

    Chris Hobbs Chris Hobbs 7:44 am 18 Oct 20

    If you provide a service, there will always be people that abuse it. Hopefully it's a minority and they have factored this into their business strategy.

Chris Hobbs Chris Hobbs 7:46 am 18 Oct 20

It's good to see an inner city choice of micro transport. Time will tell if it's viable and sustainable.

Ray Young Ray Young 8:15 am 18 Oct 20

Passed 2 parked on Ginninderra Drive between Mouat and Gunghalin Drv overpass... in the bike lane. No ped access there... so it is likely they were dumped there.

David Brown David Brown 8:24 am 18 Oct 20

I think they are wonderful.

They do get around. There was one parked in Coveney St in Bruce last week.

Corey Karl Corey Karl 8:30 am 18 Oct 20

Saw a few of them sitting in the grass opposite the war memorial.... looked great !!! Nearly got hit by one flying past on the footpath coming out of a house.... it’s really just a win win

Ahsan Razzaq Ahsan Razzaq 8:31 am 18 Oct 20

Lottie Twyford you are a star 💫

Stephen Matthews Stephen Matthews 8:36 am 18 Oct 20

Seen a few school kids on them

Angela Thomas Angela Thomas 8:51 am 18 Oct 20

Suppose they'll be just like the random bikes we had in UK a few years ago - junked and littering all over the place. I'm just waiting for the first pedestrian to be killed or injured by one - hope it's not me as I walk everywhere.

David Graham David Graham 8:55 am 18 Oct 20

I saw 12 of them in the lake

    Sharon Hunter Sharon Hunter 9:06 am 18 Oct 20

    David Graham

    So if that happens and they’re linked to a credit card, won’t the user be accountable?

    David Graham David Graham 9:14 am 18 Oct 20

    Sharon Hunter not if there pick up they won't

    Sharon Hunter Sharon Hunter 9:15 am 18 Oct 20

    David Graham


    I haven’t tried to pick them up.

    Brenton Higgins Brenton Higgins 6:18 pm 19 Oct 20

    Doubt it - they weigh about 40kgs.

Heather Purvis Heather Purvis 9:08 am 18 Oct 20

Saw some kids riding them around Manuka but had added plastic milk crates for seats, turning them into Neuron Vespas..

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

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??

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.

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.

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...

Gareth Holdom Gareth Holdom 11:28 am 18 Oct 20

Saw 5 of them abandoned on Ginninderra drive...

Alex Paech Alex Paech 11:55 am 18 Oct 20

Dannielle Quodling thought this was you

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