The electric scooter come back to San Francisco street this week. The two companies that's licensed are Scoot and Skip. Today I needed to make a shopping trip to SOMA. Scooters seemed ideal. I was excited to try them out.
Disclosure: my employer Uber owns Jump Bike.
Unfortunately, there was no scooter available near me. No shared bikes either. The bane of shared vehicle is that they are often not available when you need them. Instead, I hopped on a Muni 83X that was coming my way. It was an express bus that drop me off in two stops. Unfortunately, the downtown traffic was horrendous as usual. It only needed to make two right turn into and then out of Market Street. But it was bogged down by endless traffic and a continuous stream of pedestrians. I was stuck on Market St street for a long time. At the end, Muni got the job done. But the average speed was dragged down to mere 6mph.
- Time: 9 minutes
- Distance: 0.9 mile
- Cost: $0 with FastPass
After I was done with my first shopping, I was delighted to find one scooter available on the other side of Brannan St. There was no way for me to just hold on it without starting the trip. I didn't want to risk someone else took it. So I rushed across the street to claim it.
Brannan is not a fancy street. It is barren and lined with industrial style buildings. There was no bike lane. I rode in one of the two traffic lane. The scooter felt very slow compares to cars. Only later when I checked the Strava record did I confirm that it gets to a top speed of 15mph as promised. The other thing I have found out is that Brannan has horrendous street paving. The ride was extremely jarring over the rough concrete, cracks, pot holes, and poorly done patches. The tiny scooter wheels did nothing to absorb the jolts. It was bad enough it felt dangerous at times. The street surface got better on Potrero Avenue. The uphill incline slowed it down somewhat though. The best part of the scooter trip was I stopped right in front of Sports Basement's door. There was no hassle of parking or long walk from bus stops. I ended the trip right there and then walked into the store.
- Time: 9 minutes (from when I turned it on via the app)
- Distance: 0.9 mile
- Cost: $2.35
When I walked out of the store, the Scoot was already taken away. A Skip scooter was left in its place. But I had bulky purchase. I decided a bike was better. So, I snapped a Jump Bike two blocks away.
The electric assisted Jump Bike is awesome fun to ride. However, the electric power can be somewhat inconsistent. I felt the boost does not turn on reliably when I need it. This one, however, was an energy bunny. I just paddled a little bit and the motor kicked in automatically. I was actually not able to gently cut off the boost unless I brake. The road surface in SOMA seem no better than Brannan St. The metal basket rattles a lot the whole time. But unlike the bone jarring ride on a scooter, the large wheel and wide tire allowed me to take it in stride. I got back to Union Square comfortably and in no time. Jump Bike is my favorite among the three.
- Time: 13.5 minutes (includes walking time to bike)
- Distance: 2 mile
- Cost: $2.17
One more issue about the scooter I want to bring up is its pricing. So far every company charge the same price, $1 plus 15 cents per minute. People pay attention to the $1 number and believe it is cheap. But 15 cents adds up quickly. It is actually the bigger part of the final cost. If you make a 30 minutes trip, it set you back $5.5. This is hardly a bargain.
Follow up (My experience with Skip).