This is a neighborhood made for walking. It’s possible to walk at a comfortable pace and go from the furthest point in the northeast (the HemisView apartments) diagonally across to the furthest point in the southwest ( Il Forno) in a little more than half an hour.
That, of course, is an extreme. For most of us, walking to our favorite restaurant is more likely to take ten or twelve minutes.
I have to admit, though, sometimes ten or twelve minutes seems like a long time, especially in August heat (or July heat or June heat or September heat).
So Jane and I have begun using kick scooters for neighborhood trips.
Our neighborhood is pretty flat, which is perfect for kick scooters. Kick scooters would not work well with hills. Kicking up an incline is hard work, and hurtling out of control down a small hill sounds pretty scary.
Riding around the neighborhood, I’ve learned that we do, in fact, have small differences in elevation. Pereida, from Alamo Street toward St. Mary's, is uphill; I have to kick three or four times as often scooting from South Alamo toward St. Mary's -- uphill, that is -- than I do when going in the other direction.
Kick scooters aren’t fast — at least not on level surfaces. I’d estimate that my scooter speed is about three times my walking speed, maybe the same speed as an easy jog. But that’s enough to cut a fifteen-minute walking trip down to five or six minutes. And most importantly, it takes less exertion to cover that distance on a scooter than it does by walking. Combine lower exertion with shorter trips and you get one of the really big advantages of scooting over walking: You don’t arrive at Bar Loretta dripping sweat from a fifteen minute walk.
HOW ABOUT SAFETY?
A kick scooter's relatively slow speed in itself provides some safety — it makes them easier to control, and it means that falls will be less serious.
I recently saw an electric scooter accident on South Alamo, and the scooter’s speed was both a cause of the accident and a factor in how badly hurt the rider was. A young woman, heading north on South Alamo alongside Rosario’s, tried to make a U-turn. She was going too fast to complete the turn and also too fast to stop. She hit the curb on the opposite side of the street and was thrown, rolling, onto the sidewalk.
On a kick scooter, the turn would have been easy and — had it failed — she would probably have landed, stumbling, on her feet.
The bigger safety issue is traffic. Here in the neighborhood, I feel pretty comfortable, even on South Alamo and Pereida, but for the most part, I ride on less-trafficked streets. I wouldn’t ride the scooter on César Chávez or downtown.
Oh, and let me add, if I have multiple glasses of wine with dinner, I can walk my scooter home.
IS IT HARD TO LEARN?
No, it's not hard to learn. Learning takes minutes. Jane considers herself to be borderline clumsy — she’s the person who discovers every unevenness in the sidewalk by tripping over it — and she became comfortable riding her scooter after just a few practice blocks on streets near home. Now she rides it for fun.
HOW MUCH DOES IT COST?
As of this writing, the A6 scootesrs that we bought list for $149 direct from Razor, but they’re available for quite a bit less from Walmart, Target, and Amazon. We paid $120 for each of ours.
And Razors aren’t the only choice. Our A6 models are mid-priced models. You can spend a lot more and get more features.
Jane Gennarelli parked her kick scooter next to the couch at Re:Rooted while joining some friends for a glass of wine.
Let me make this clear: I’m not talking about the electric scooters that zip up and down South Alamo and litter neighborhood sidewalks. I rode those when they were new to the city, but I soured on them during that period when there were half a dozen competing companies offering them, and they piled up like trash all across downtown.
Kick scooters don’t have motors. They rely on foot power. They’re a bit like skate boards with handlebars, but they require a lot less skill to operate than skate boards.
Most kick scooters are made for kids, but there are a few models aimed at adults. Jane and I purchased an adult model, the A6, manufactured by Razor (yes, they also make the red bike-like electric scooters you see around town). The A6 is sturdy enough for adults (up to 220 pounds), big enough (it can handle my size 12 foot), and with an extensible handlebar that works for both short and tall riders.
Most importantly, the A6 collapses into an easy-to-carry package that you can bring inside with you at a lot of places in the neighborhood. We always ride our scooters when we go to Re:Rooted, where we can lean them against the bar or against the wall next to a couch, and — while we haven’t done it yet — we’ve been assured at Bar Loretta that they’ll find a place for our scooters if we end up in seating that doesn’t have adjacent space.
Here's a sampling of the many companies that make adult scooters: Razor, Xootr, Hudora, Micro, Mongoose, Go-Ped, Swagtron, Hikole. Even Schwinn makes a scooter, although its model is a bit of an oddball with a bicycle-style front wheel and handlebars.
If you do some searching, you’ll find a lot of options and a lot of reviews, including video reviews on YouTube.
Here's a closer look at two models that cover the range of features and price.
See the A6 on the manufacturer's website.
The A6 is aimed at adults. It’s solidly manufactured and supports up to 220 pounds. If you’ve ridden any of the rentable electric scooters around town, you should be aware of a couple of key differences between those scooters and the A6.
Most significantly, the deck on a Razor A6 (and on all kick scooters) is significantly smaller than the decks on those electric scooters. There’s room for just one foot standing flat on the deck. The other foot can get a toe behind the first, with your heel hovering over the back fender.
Secondly, the A6 lacks a hand brake. You brake by pressing your heel down on the rear fender, which then rubs against the rear wheel. I use that method to slow the scooter, but I stop by stepping down with my kicking foot.
The A6 folds up nicely. It weighs eleven pounds and can be comfortably carried by the down-tube. There's one negative about that, however: the lock mechanism can be a bit tricky to disengage, and, at least on Jane’s scooter, it seems prone to jamming.
Here’s a video review of the A6 on YouTube.
As I mentioned earlier, the A6 lists on the Razor website for $149, but it’s significantly less expensive from Walmart, Target, and Amazon.
Here's the Xootr MG on the manufacturer's website.
The Xootr MG is a high-end scooter. Here are some of the differences between it and the A6:
It has a much bigger deck than any scooter I checked out. It appears that the Xootr deck is large enough to allow most adults to plant both feet. Combine that with wheels that emphasize easy coasting, and this scooter should be much more comfortable than the A6 for longer rides.
Practically speaking, when we’re talking about neighborhood transportation, that’s not a huge deal. Most rides won’t be more than fifteen minutes. Still, standing on one leg can be tiring.
The Xootr MG has a hand brake. Again, that's not as big a deal as you might think. Speeds are relatively slow on a kick scooter, and even a hand brake is intended more to slow you down than to stop you.
It's lightweight for its size. Even though the Xootr MG is bigger than the A6, it isn’t any heavier. According to the manufacturer, that's because the MG's deck is made from magnesium.
The price for the MG on Xootr's website is $329. As of this writing, it's available at the same price from Amazon and Walmart.
Here's a video review of the MG on YouTube.
Jim Feuerstein is co-editor of LNF Weekly; he also designs and manages the website.
Most kick scooters are made for kids, but there are a few models aimed at adults.