March 26, 2022

A Different Kind of Two Wheels

This past week was my first week back to the office under a hybrid model since the COVID-19 pandemic began. However, my employer moved their head office from Dufferin and Lawrence – which was bikeable for me – to Vaughan which definitely is not. The new office is a 20 minute walk from Vaughan Metropolitan Centre station and the TTC prohibits bikes on the subway during rush hour (for good reason given how packed it was on Thursday evening). To address this mobility gap, I did something on Tuesday evening which can make some fellow bike riding people cringe.

I bought an electric kick scooter (a.k.a. e-scooter).

It should be noted Toronto City Council upheld its ban on e-scooters at its May 5, 2021 City Council meeting, while the City of Vaughan also opted out of Ontario’s e-scooter pilot. Even so, I continue to see many people use e-scooters in the GTA and they are not expected to go away anytime soon. There are some people who bike who asked me why I didn’t consider getting a folding bike to carry onto the TTC. More on this in a bit, but let’s first introduce my new e-scooter.

The e-scooter I purchased is a BlueRev X8 from Epic Cycles in The Junction. It retails for $899 – was on sale for $699 when I got it – and has a top speed of 30 km/h with a 20 to 25 kilometre range. Front and rear lights are built in, while cruise control kicks in after you hear a beep or two and release the throttle. The screen clearly shows your speed and battery life, while you have three speed settings to choose from.

An overview of the BlueRev X8 (and X7) from Epic Cycles

At 38 lbs, the X8 is heavier than typical hybrid and road bikes, though the battery itself can explain the added heft. The folding and unfolding took a few tries to get used to – especially the unfolding – but it takes about five seconds to do. Considerably faster than folding and unfolding a Brompton or other folding bikes such as the Dahon we rented in Seville in 2019.

The X8 is easy to carry onto the subway and you can hold it vertically by the handlebars to minimize your footprint. One thing I did wish the X8 would have is the ability to stand vertically on its own which would allow for more efficient ways to store it. For now, there is one kickstand close to the front wheel.

After an initial kick motion, the throttle responds promptly and can reach top speed quickly. Strong winds and hills slowed down the X8 slightly, but it was still capable of tackling these obstacles. The X8 allowed me to get from the subway to the office in five minutes instead of twenty which helped make my commuting experience to Vaughan a lot more tolerable with a total commute of slightly more than one hour. However, the 10” wheels on the X8 make it not as stable as a bike when going through potholes.

While I was initially skeptical about e-scooters – thanks Helen for convincing me otherwise – having this first hand experience made me realize they are a great last mile solution. Especially in suburban communities such as Vaughan which are not expected to get bike share anytime soon. I still prefer to bike for errands and exercise, while transporting Mozzie is best done on a cargo bike. A deeper discussion – and a follow up post – is needed to figure out how Toronto and other cities can make e-scooters (and other forms of micromobility) legal while addressing safety concerns for those who walk or bike.

2 comments:

  1. Hi, congratulations on your new e-scooter and I'm glad it seems to be working out for you. I hope you wear a helmet! I just bought my first scooter because I'm disabled and can't ride a bike anymore. I'm a lady in my fifties. A lot of older people are buying scooters now.

    I just wanted to send you a couple of links about scooters and micromobility, since you're planning to write a follow up article about e-scooters.

    Group trying to get privately owned scooters legalized in Toronto - https://scootsafe.ca

    Group trying to improve micromobility laws across Canada - https://cdnmicro.com

    Insurance broker working on creating full insurance coverage for micromobility vehicles - https://allegoryapp.com/micromobility

    I hope these will be helpful. You can always ask me if you have any questions.

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    Replies
    1. Thanks, Iraj! Perfect timing. I was in the process of finalizing the follow up post last night, so I can add some of this info in. Disappointed the petition didn't get much traction. And yes, I always wear helmets whether I bike or scoot.

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