As London decides what to do with its e-scooters after a 12 month trial led by the government comes to an end next month, the tech, transport and sport industries are coming together this weekend at Printworks London, in Canada Water to discuss, debate and show off the future for e-scooters they think the capital should pick. A series of panels called the ‘New Mobility Forum’ were held early on Friday (May 13) followed by a truly revolutionary concept.
Think of it as Formula 1 on e-scooters. There are 30 riders in 10 teams, racing on lightweight but high speed e-scooters which can travel at 100km/h (62mph) – the races are non-gendered so men and women can take part in the same race and hardly anyone needs earplugs as the electric motors make hardly any noise compared to an actual Formula 1 racing vehicle.
It’s called the eSkootr Championship and it is starting its inaugural season here in London on a makeshift part-indoor track around the Printworks site, which is usually used as a nightclub and events venue. There will be races all weekend and then the championship moves to Switzerland and then four other cities across the world, culminating in the autumn.
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The teams are hoping to use the event to promote the future of e-scooters as both a more sustainable mode of transport and sport. Team manager for one of the teams Racing Citizens, Hannah, told MyLondon: “It’s something completely different from what you’d normally see. It’s very accessible, you can come in here [backstage, to the pit area], you can meet the riders, meet all the crews and see the scooters. E-scooters have become massive in London and people use them so it’s a bit more relatable – they might not be as powerful [as ours], but they are using them on the streets. We’re trying to push that sustainable, green side of things and ensure the future of the sport and the e-scooters.”
At present e-scooters can only be used legally when rented from an agreed operator within the London trial area. They have been banned from TfL property and services and many parts of the National Rail network too. In the same way how cycling as a sport has helped people turn to bikes as a green hobby and mode of travel, the e-scooter industry is hoping to replicate that success.
One immediate success of e-scooters is their popularity amongst young people and demographics which are historically underrepresented in cycling or driving. It’s the same at the championship, as Hannah adds: “We’ve got two female riders and a male rider, every team has a great mix, with people from all across the world too.
“I’ve been in the car industry as a mechanic for 15 years and we are seeing the progression, we are seeing more and more females enter the tech and the mechanical side of things and as you can see from today, it’s making it accessible and working quite well.”
If you want a front seat for e-scooter pole position, you can get a ticket for this weekend’s racing here.
Watch back our Facebook Live from backstage at the inaugural race with our Transport Callum Marius here.
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