Neil Ormond with his electric scooter near his residence at Boulevard Downtown in Dubai. He says he now reaches office in 25 minutes which earlier took him 50. Image Credit: Pankaj Sharma/Gulf News

Dubai: Electric scooters are becoming a popular mode of transport for residents living and working in several new communities in Dubai.

Usually used for distances considered too far to walk and too short to drive, the electric scooters require that the riders stand on them while holding on to a handlebar and pull a lever to activate the electric motor. Residents say they are convenient and help save time and money.

Andre, a Filipino resident of Downtown who works in an international bank in the same community, said, “The scooter is hassle-free. I use it to travel back and forth from my office and it is quick and convenient as you pass by the same route that others walk through.”

A few blocks away, Neil Ormond, a British resident, said he actually sold his car and uses the scooter and the Metro to reach his office in Jumeirah Lake Towers.

“It saves me time and stress. I am in a better mood when I arrive at work and get back home as I don’t have to negotiate traffic.”

Andre, Filipino banker in Downtown. Image Credit: Pankaj Sharma/Gulf News

He said he would earlier take 50 minutes to reach his office, thanks to traffic and parking hassles. “But now, I am there in 25 minutes. I ride the scooter from my apartment to the Dubai Mall Metro station where I promptly fold it and carry it into the train. When I get off at the DMCC Metro station, I use the scooter again to reach my office.”

Ormond, who was driving a car for five years, said using the scooter has greatly cut down his expenses. “There’s no hassle of filling petrol or salik. Just the one-time cost of buying the scooter.”

Available under various brands, the average cost of the scooter is Dh1,600.

In terms of maintenance too, an Emirates Living resident Esmail said scooters are cost-efficient. “I just charge my scooter for an hour every day, just like my cell phone.”

A huge craze in big cities like San Francisco, New York and London, motorised e-scooters are being touted as the future of urban transport as they are considered not just hassle-free and cost-efficient but also fun and environmentally friendly.

Neil Ormond with his electric scooter near his residence at Boulevard Downtown in Dubai. Image Credit: Pankaj Sharma/Gulf News

Carla, a Swedish resident of Executive Towers in Business Bay, who comes to Emaar Square in Downtown to work, said, “Communities like Downtown have huge pavements which make it very conducive for scooter riders. I would walk earlier to work and it was very difficult during summer. Then I got a scooter which helps me zip by within minutes.”

The speed factor has sparked its share of controversy in the west, with some saying the scooters are a nuisance fraught with danger, especially in busy areas. For one, the scooters need some getting used to before riders can get comfortable with them. Novices trying them on sidewalks can pose a hazard for pedestrians and other riders. They can also be unsafe when riders use them in tandem.

Andre said riders have to be careful with speed as the vehicles move swiftly. “You don’t need any special training to ride them, but yes, you have to learn how to control the speed as pressing the accelerator really gets them going.”

As things stand, residents ride e-scooters along pavements. But do they need to be registered with the Road Transport Authority (RTA)? According to Jamal Al Assada, director of vehicle licensing at RTA’s Licensing Agency, the scooters technically do not qualify as vehicles or motorcycles under the law or the GCC Standardisation Organisation (GSO). “Therefore, they cannot be registered or driven on the roads,” he said.

Dockless scooter shares

You can even hire e-scooters in Downtown, thanks to Quikly Mobility, a company that has launched what it claims to be the first dockless micro mobility platform in the UAE.

Available at different points in the community, the scooters can be availed by downloading the Quikly app. Once you’ve registered, all you have to do is scan the ‘QR’ code to unlock the vehicle and start riding it. When you reach your destination, you have to tap the app to end the ride and park the scooter at a suitable place.

Sean Fuller of Quikly Mobility said, “Every scooter has a SIM card and the service is able to track a rider’s movements with the help of GPS. A sum of Dh3 is charged every time a vehicle is unlocked, with 50 fils being added to every minute of use there on.” In other words, a five minute journey would cost the rider Dh5.50.

“Our scooters are typically used for short distances, the last mile of a journey, so they are very handy,” he added.

What is an electric scooter?

It is a plug-in electric vehicle with two or three wheels. The electricity is stored in a rechargeable battery which drives the electric motor. Distinct from a motorcycle, the scooter has a step-through frame with riders holding on to handlebar and pulling a lever to activate the motor.

How much does it cost?

Dh1,600 on an average. It is available in different brands.

Do you need a special licence to ride a scooter?

No, not as of now at least.