This article originally appeared on VICE UK.
Here's the thing: scooters are currently going through a little something that could be considered A Moment™.
But first, a vital obvious: We fucking hate scooters, don't we? There are Instagrams full of videos of them being burned, and tweets condemning them. So, considering the fact this little something isn't every single scooter ever being incinerated (it's actually to do with you seeing much more of them, and perhaps society even accepting them as "normal"), maybe we should talk about that a little?
Why do we hate scooters?
Look: I, too, abhor scooters. So don’t get me wrong—I am not saying you should enjoy them in any way whatsoever. I just feel we should decide some sort of legitimate reason as to why we hate them, as right now it feels sort of… nebular?
Hate is usually unambiguous and defined. You carry it with you at all times, ready to unload on any idiot who dares prod you regarding your hated topic. This is easy to do with, say, the popular-if-basic-TV-monolith Friends (Ross is terrible!); it is easy to hate on Harry Potter (JK Rowling’s persistent retconning mixed with a fanbase that simply refuses to read a single other book!). Heck, you can even hate on avocado toast without breaking too much of a sweat (the texture is overrated, the flavor demands hot sauce!). But when it comes to scooters, it feels hard to pinpoint why they are so reviled.
In my mind, there are two possible reasons: I) scooters come in two formats, commuters and tricksters. They are both always in the way. In the way when you go to work and in the way at the skatepark. II) there are better ways to commute; there are better ways to do tricks, meaning they are very esoteric in a dual-wielding shit way, and that’s very annoying.
Obviously, scooters having a moment isn't going to change your mind on this. But it will at least give you more nerds to laugh at, as communities of scooter-lovers are genuinely growing.
Scooters and Their Something, Explored
1. Bird Is Coming to London
Bird is an American-based scooter-sharing company; basically Boris bikes for electric scooters. It is worth over $2 billion. I repeat: it is worth over $2 billion. I know cosmic numbers are often attached to startups because they are based on the market potential rather than actual revenue, but, again: it is worth over $2 billion.
The service is currently being trialled in Olympic Park (seems apt, doesn't it – the spiritual home of the Tories, trialling such a service?) and soon will be unrolled all over the city. Is this bad? A haunting indictment of what value is attached to in our late-capitalist society? Of course. But when you consider the real world implications, it feels… a little better?
For one, it means more jobs: these scooters don’t have hubs like Boris Bikes. You get the app, find one, embarrassingly use it, cathartically ditch it and then go back to your pathetic life. So, naturally, there’s going to be jobs for people who are willing to go around the city picking the scooters up and charging them. In America, these collectors can earn anywhere from $20 to $30 in an hour, so I imagine it's going to translate to something better than minimum wage here. Which, of course, is a good thing.
Secondly, it actually is a very useful, environmentally-friendly way to commute: right now we look at scooters and scoff. Why not get a bike, or, like, a bus; maybe even a Tube; perhaps just fucking walk, as you're only going 2mph faster than me, mate? But these electric scooters, they pick up some stream (15mph) and you can ditch them anywhere. Actually surprisingly quite useful.
2. Scooter Instagram Is Getting a Fair Amount of Clout
One thing I don’t understand here is: I am sure people only ever start doing any sort of extreme sport as it makes them more of a fuckable asset. Considering that, why in the hell would someone choose to scooter rather than skateboard or BMX? Both of which look cool and are generally respected by all types of sexual beings, something that obviously cannot be said for scooters.
But this scooter moment – it started, as so many doomed things do, on Instagram: people who have chosen to scooter have become pretty good at it, and the following of the objectively bad "extreme" sport has grown massively because of that. The fella in the video below has 180,000 followers, but this guy has over a million:
Scooters are considered odious in the skateboarding world – sort of like a rival gang, if the rival gang was full of nerds whose dads don’t let them swear or leave the house without kneepads – so I asked the guy in the video above as to whether they were regularly harangued for scootering rather than skating, as per my youth.
"Honestly not regularly, but it definitely happens," he told me, via Insta DM. "Mainly younger kids around my age that are jealous usually."
Do they stop when they see the shit you can do?
A lot of the time, yes they do shut up when they see all the crazy stuff I can do, but some of them have no lives and keep giving me grief, believe it or not.
What do you think the limit is for scootering?
I really don't think there is a limit for scootering. Look at skating, for example: that sport has been around five times as long, and skating as a sport is still progressing. I think as long as there are people doing it, it will always progress.
The insight ended there: off he scooted, into the horizon, thousands of ScooterHeads (working title for the scooter fan community) watching as he silently glided away.
How Long Does This Moment Have, Then?
There is nothing I am more sure of than these two facts:
1) Scooters will never be considered cooler than skateboarding – not as long as skateboarding exists, not as long as the planet exists, not as long as those actual grown-up lads in suits and special little trouser clip things they use so they can scoot unabated scoot to work in their little helmets;
2) Bird Rides will probably always be destroyed as some sort of anti-capitalist agenda, because the UK cannot do sincerity, most of all when it comes to scooting;
So: not long. Scooters will always be slightly esoteric in a very shit way, but they’ve found a sort of niche where people go fucking mad for them – sort of like vaping did a couple of years ago: nerdy, yes, but in a peculiar way where some people just find it exceptionally, world-shakingly cool – and, if nothing else, we as consumers of culture have to recognise that. Fair play to you, scooting. Fair play.
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