If kick scooting is really hassle-free, I would gladly scoot to work every day. By Estelle Low
Kick scooting to the office proved to be a challenge. Photo: Vernon Wong
As we move towards a car-lite society, cycling and scooting are becoming the norm.
These modes of transport are more environmentally friendly, and not to mention, sustainable for a land-limited city like ours. Of course, there’s the fitness element too.
Cycling at 20kmh for 30 minutes easily burns 180 calories. I can imagine kick scooting burns more, since more energy is required to push off the ground every couple of seconds. Both activities are intense on the core and legs, big muscles in the body.
With a husband who cycles to and fro work every day except when it’s rainy, I’ve long been educated about the benefits of cycling: zero wait time for buses and trains, no need to jostle and squeeze with crowds, and best of all: get a solid cardio workout first thing in the morning plus another in the evening.
Seeing more and more people cycling and scooting to work, I became convinced that it wouldn’t be too tough to do so myself.
As I have an unfounded fear of cycling, kick scooting is the best option to me.
It looks simple: You just need to balance while standing on the scooter with one leg, and push off with the other. The maximum speed for kick scooters is around 15kmh, lower than that of e-scooters and bikes.
Home is a mere 5km away from my office in Genting Lane. With just a few traffic junctions in between, I was quite confident of being able to kick scoot all the way to work.
But first, small goals.
Being a newbie, I wasn’t about to kick scoot for 5km straightaway. For the first few days, I planned to scoot from home to Kembangan MRT station, take the train, then kick scoot from Aljunied MRT station to office. After work, I would take the train to Kembangan, then scoot on the park connector to get home.
Who knew, my kick scooting venture lasted all of two days.
This is how it went.
To strengthen my centre of gravity while kick scooting, I swopped my tote bag for a backpack. I wore long pants and sports shoes to play it safe, plus a sleeveless top to stay cool.
It was drizzling when I left the house with my 4.7kg Micro kick scooter in one hand. After deliberating for a while, I decided to ditch the park connector plan, and take a bus and train to Aljunied MRT instead.
Scooter on the bus
Boarding the public bus, I felt extra conscious of the kick scooter in my hand. My wrist was starting to hurt from carrying it. I was holding the folded scooter the only way I knew how: by the frame in a lopsided fashion. The small metal parts dug into my flesh, leaving red dents on my inner forearm. I wondered if kick scooting was a good idea after all. Though I don’t mind standing on the bus, the discomfort from carrying the scooter made me hunt down a seat. Measuring 74cm by 12.7cm by 30cm, the scooter that I once thought was compact took up a fair bit of space in front of me. I reckon the bus could take one less standing passenger because of it.
Scooter on the train
At the MRT station, I was relieved to see that my scooter met the Land Transport Authority guidelines for personal mobility devices on trains and buses: not more than 120cm by 70cm by 40cm when folded. In the crowded morning train, I felt extra-conscious. People were shifting to make space for me and my scooter; I swear they were shooting daggers at me. All seats were taken, so I had to stand and balance with my scooter – still in the awkward holding position – which felt more like a burden than anything.
It was only three MRT stops, but I alighted at Aljunied feeling worn out from carrying the scooter. My arm was sore, and I hadn’t even started kick scooting! The road was still wet, so I decided to cut myself some slack and kick scoot from the nearest bus stop to office.
Scooting on the road
After alighting the bus, I was ready to scoot to the office, which by now was just 700 metres away. Every bit of effort counts, I told myself.
I took the walking path to avoid motor vehicles. As the path is only wide enough for two people walking side-by-side, I could only go as fast as the pedestrians walking in front of me. Overtaking them would require some skill in manoeuvring the scooter, something I wasn’t sure of doing without an accident. Sensing my apprehension, some pedestrians kindly gave way to let me scoot ahead.
After making a turn, I realised that the rest of the walking path was super uneven. I took my scooter to the road for the final 300 metres. While checking my blind spot, I almost crashed into a motorcyclist who was riding out of a lot. It happened so quickly, I couldn’t react except thank my lucky stars for being unharmed.
I arrived in office a few minutes earlier than if I had walked from the bus stop. My heart was racing, thinking about my near-accident. If I was serious about kick scooting, I would need to be much more vigilant.
Scooting on the park connector
In the evening, my plan was to kick scoot home via the Siglap Park Connector just opposite Kembangan MRT station. Travelling on the park connector was a lot less stressful than being on the road. After work hours, people were more relaxed. There was less scurrying than in the morning.
Though it was a straight route on the connector, there were plenty of bumps, thanks to speed-regulating strips that made grooves in the ground. I had to push harder to overcome the resistance. My core muscles were working really hard to stabilise myself.
Going downhill was fun, but I had to control my speed to avoid knocking into people. Inclines were tough; my glutes and thighs were on fire after repeated kicks to keep the scooter moving. Walking is definitely easier!
Scooting on the road
It was drizzling again, but I was determined to kick scoot via Siglap Park Connector to Kembangan MRT station. Bad move. As the ground was wet, it took longer to decelerate or to brake. My scooter had only one brake, above the back wheel.
Before I hit the park connector, I had to go past a row of terrace houses. There was no one in sight, so I decided to speed up.
Of course, I didn’t notice the cracks in the ground. Nor did I anticipate the puddles of muddy water collected in them. When I tried to brake, it was too late. My scooter rolled over the craggy terrain and I stumbled.
Who knew, there were more cracks ahead. I couldn’t stop in time, so I jumped off my scooter at the spur of the moment, landing clumsily on my right leg. My ankle was throbbing like I had sprained it.
My journey had barely started, but I already felt defeated, as though I had been slapped with an F grade before finishing a test.
Thankfully, I could still rotate my ankle and bear some weight on my right (dominant) leg, and managed to complete my kick scooting journey to Kembangan. 1.8km to be exact. I was soaked in sweat by the time I got there. The exhaustion was much worse than running the equivalent distance.
With my ankle still sore, I hobbled onto the train, hoping no one would notice me. But a young man walked up and offered me a pack of tissue to wipe down. I accepted his gesture sheepishly, thinking of the mess I must have looked.
By the time I got to the office, I had come to this resolution: Until there are proper, designated paths for cycling and scooting, kick scooting is best saved for a leisurely day at the park. Or maybe, until I’ve got the logistics figured out. For now, it’s not worth the hassle – and stress – to scoot to work.