eScooters have had somewhat of a controversial life in Australia, but now with an official trial in many states, their convenience is really shining, particularly as Melbourne plays host to one of the biggest sporting events of the year.
The Formula 1 2022 Grand Prix is on this weekend, starting today through Sunday and while the event is expected to attract more than 400,000 attendees across the 4 days, getting to the circuit has always been challenging.
When you race around a street circuit like Albert Park, that means regular roads (and parking opportunities) are cut off for the event. For those who are driving, this creates a challenge, with most on-street parking reserved for residents and other options near commercial spaces, often limited to just a couple of hours.
Having travelled to Melbourne from Wodonga this morning, I found all-day parking around 30 minutes walk from Gate 1. Of course, you could walk, but in 2022, there’s another alternative – eScooters.
Back in Feburary, Melbourne kicked off their official eScooter trial, with more than 1,500 scooters available for hire. Today, those scooters are being well used by fans of F1 to get to the circuit, from distant parking locations, solving the last mile (or last km) problem.
This my first time to Melbourne since the launch of the trial, so it provided a great opportunity to experience this new mode of transport for the first time (outside the eScooter reviews already on techAU).
There seemed to be a fairly even split between Neuron and Lime scooters, but the orange grabbed my attention, so for no other reason than that, I downloaded the Neuron app, created an account, and added a payment method (Google Pay) and I was ready.
The app shows you a map of where scooters nearby are located and I found I only had to walk about 5 minutes to get to a group of 4 of them. Meanwhile I passed about a dozen people on eScooters on the way, many wearing Formula 1 merchandise, clearly off to the races.
After getting to the scooter, you simply scan the QR code on the handlebars with the app, which lets the service know which one you’re about to ride. Through the app you can disconnect the helmet, secured to the scooter with a clipping mechanism.
With the helmet on, I tapped the Get Started button and began the ride. My journey along the St Kilda boulevard was a really pleasant one, with ocean views, a dedicated bike (and also now scooter) lane, I felt safe and was getting to the circuit much faster than walking.
At between 15-20km/hrs I did crave for a little faster ride, but understand when you’re mixing with others in dense urban environments, this was probably fast enough, particularly when many riders would be inexperienced.
After cutting down a couple of side streets, I reached the main road next to the main entrance (Gate 1) to the circuit. It was time to hang up the helmet and end the ride. I looked for a place to do it and unsurprisingly, quickly found 2 banks of eScooters from other riders who had the same idea. These were pretty evenly split between Neuron and Lime.
The idea with these scooters is that they’re ultra-convenient and that means you really can find any vacant nature strip to leave them, however, the app does incentivise you to leave them in dedicated areas with a mild discount on your ride. I assume this is to enable group re-charging of the scooters, rather than chasing them all over town. Personally, I didn’t find the amount was enough and paid the convenience tax.
Overall the ride was great, for an 11m 54s ride, I covered 1.53km and paid A$6.40 to do so. As I said at the beginning, I could have walked, but this is a far more convenient option, for a fairly mild cost and meant I had more time at the circuit today.
If you get a chance to try out eScooters, make sure you do, they’re lots of fun.