We tried the new electric scooters in Cambridge and it was wild
The vois are back in town
On Thursday (15th), the first large-scale exclusive electric scooter trial in the UK began in Cambridge. The Swedish company, “voi”, have installed their first fleet of scooters, which are set to remain in the city on a trial-run for the next twelve months. Naturally, we decided to throw on our fluorescent Tab T-shirts, complete with non-matching bike helmets (because safety always comes first), and scoot off into the night. Here’s a very professional review from two totally qualified third years who’ve never scooted before in their lives.
Step one: Scouting for a scoot
The first thing we had to do to test out the new scooters was to actually find the darn things. This meant downloading the “voi” app and navigating our way to the scooter emoticon on the digital map. Despite the fact that the app tells everyone to park their scooters in one of the designated parking spots, we found our first one on a random pathway in Christ’s Pieces, so we really hope we didn’t nick it off someone else!
To set up our scooters, we needed to scan a QR code after entering our names and contact information. An important rule of the voi is that you have to be 18 or over to ride, so we had to run back home and grab our IDs before looking for a streetlamp to scan them under.
As we found our second scooter, we ran into two lovely voi employees, who came to check if we were managing okay. They agreed to take a picture with us, looking thoroughly enthused in their hi-vis jackets:
Step two: They see me rollin’…
When we first mounted the scooters, we were met with a massive anti-climax. Unbeknownst to us, we were in one of the app’s “slow zones”, meaning we were overtaken by several pedestrians and had to resort to foot-pedalling in order to get onto the road. We were constantly aware that we were being charged a very steep rate of 20p per minute and really had to pace it around town to get our money’s worth before 10 pm (or before our overdrafts maxed out).
However, once we got onto King’s Parade, the scooters suddenly jolted forward, tripling in speed and almost leaving us behind. There was a lot of screaming, and one of us may or may not have had a near-miss with a delivery driver on a motorbike. It may or may not have been the only one of the two of us to actually have a full driver’s license.
Patrolling down the streets of Cambridge, we attracted a lot of attention from local passersby. Here are some comments people made as we sped past:
“I don’t wanna ride them pieces of trash… but seriously, can I have a go?” – Random townies on bicycles
“Ooh, they look fun!” – Random townie couple
“I’ve heard these break down all the time.” – Legendary Big Issue Man
We also had a lot of people come up to us and ask how much they cost, how to rent them etc. So really, riding scooters is a great way to make new friends in these socially distanced times. But remember to “lock” your scooter with the app during your chats along the way, so no one steals it.
Step three: Seeing the sights
As two Londoners who’ve missed seeing tourists on Boris bikes, we decided to emulate the Cambridge tourism experience by visiting all the popular spots that central Cambridge has to offer and that we could feasibly get to in a half-hour time period. These included good old Trinity, King’s Chapel and the Fitzwilliam Museum. Here are some pics:
Of course, we absolutely HAD to end our experience at the hub of the Cambridge social scene, the Van of Life. Sadly, it was empty, both of drunken queuing students, and actual employees. No food for us, but at least we had a good time.
Step four: End of the road
To conclude our escapade, we had to locate a parking zone on the app’s map, and leave our scooters there. This proved harder than expected, mainly because our map-reading skills leave a lot to be desired. Bronze DofE has NOT served us well. Eventually, we managed to park the scooters, before giving them a quick wipe down to keep things safe and clean.
Once we ended the ride, the app asked us to rate our journey. We went with a solid three out of five stars – the fast zones were a lot of fun, and we managed fairly well considering how uncoordinated we are. However, we knocked off one star for the price, which was £10.40 for a 47-minute ride – far too spenny for us – and another star for the sudden speed changes, which were more unpredictable than the Eduroam network speed.
Overall, the vois showed us a good time. In a world without much evening entertainment to procrastinate the hours away, we recommend swapping out Zoom calls for a quick zoom through town on an E-scooter, and you may be surprised by how much you enjoy it. We gave it a go, and oh voi, wasn’t it fun!
All image credits to Charissa Cheong and Ella Gold