And so, dreading the prospect of travelling for at least an hour each way by bus to my new offices, I had to find another way of making the daily commute to work. Arise, the trusty scooter.
Now I have to say that before this year, I had never so much as ridden passenger on a motorbike for over twenty years. And I had never actually ridden one alone – not even on a dusty track in the middle of nowhere.
So the thought of riding through London’s rush hour traffic on a tiny scooter, amongst the buses, cyclists and trucks, was a tad nervewracking. However, in line with the age old philosophy of JFDI, I set out to give it a go.
The first thing I did was to check out whether I could legally ride one on the roads without having to have a test, given I have a car licence. And the answer was YES, provided it was a scooter of up to 50cc. There’s more info on direct.gov.uk about the rules (and beware, apparently they are due to change in Oct next year.)
The next step was to buy the bike and gear. I discovered loads of places on the web, here are a few I have used.
Towerscooters where I bought my very low mileage, less than a year old piaggio for under £1000, complete with helmet and gloves. A nice family run business.
Hein Gericke I use the branch in Stockwell. They stock lots of bike clothing and gear that is well suited to scooter riders
CMG Chelsea Motorcycles – CMG Chelsea Motorcycles is a motorcycle dealership website offering sales of new & used motorcycles, servicing, training, motorcycle clothing and accessories. They have been established in the motorcycle industry for over 15 years.
City Bike Service great place for getting your bike serviced while you are at work, especially if you work in the city or east end.
The final bit was the trickiest – getting on and riding it. To build confidence, I did two things. I checked out the best route to take to and from work and then I practised the journey on a Sunday morning, when the Elephant and Castle roundabout was nice and quiet.
And then for about a fortnight, I rode the scooter like a car. ie. I joined and followed the line of traffic and avoided overtaking.
And now, 5 months later, I feel like a fully fledged scooter commuter, ducking in and out of traffic, zooming to the front of queues and getting to work in under 20 minutes. Brilliant!