It’s fast, its efficient, you don’t need a license for it and your suit won’t get wrinkled when you ride it as you do not have to sit. These are some of the reasons cited by electric scooter riders (also called E-scooterists), who vote their ride as the coolest mode of transport even in the peak of UAE summers. As the sight of people using electric scooters is becoming increasingly common in the city, we find out why this ride has become a rage even during the summers.
E-scooters for rent were rolled out in Dubai last year as a year-long trial project in five major areas of the city that have dedicated lanes and cycle tracks. The aim was to help commuters save time and money on short journeys and establish the safe use of the two wheelers in the emirate.
Located in popular commuter hot spots, rental stations can be found in Downtown Dubai’s Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Boulevard, Dubai Internet City, 2nd of December Street, Al Rigga and Jumeirah Lakes Towers. These areas were selected based on their population density, infrastructure, traffic safety records, availability of public transport and private developments. Riders must be 14 years and older to rent or buy an e-scooter which can be used freely only in the designated zones.
However, in the most recent development, Dubai Municipality banned the use of E-scooters in public parks in order to prevent accidents, since many were found riding the two-wheelers in non-designated areas. “For everyone’s safety at public parks, #DubaiMunicipality announced that it is not allowed to use electric scooters in public parks to avoid accidents,” DM posted on Twitter last week.
An easy-breezy commute
In love with her zero-emission E-scooter, 32-year-old Ukranian national Ana said this was the best gift her husband gave her this summer as it has made her commute to work a leisurely ride that she looks forward to every day.
The content writer who stays and works in Jumeirah Lakes Towers (JLT) community said: “I know how frustrating it gets for motorists who get stuck in traffic jams while coming or going to work during peak hours. I am glad my office is within the JLT neighbourhood, which is one of the designated areas to ride electric scooters by the Roads and Transport Authority of Dubai. Instead of walking in the scorching heat or waiting for a cab, I simply zip through the different clusters on the designated path and reach my work place hassle-free, traffic-free in no time. It is not only a convenient mode of transport but also saves time, money and effort and at the same time promotes a greener and cleaner environment.”
Proud owner of an E-scooter, Filipino expatriate Oliver said he bought his last year when Covid struck and he wanted to avoid using public transport. Describing how he was pleased with his purchase and gradually fell in love with it, the 40-year-old graphic designer said: “I bought my E-scooter in May 2020, because of the limited access to bus in my area and also to avoid using public transport with the Covid pandemic around. If I missed the scheduled time of the bus arrival then I had to wait for 45 minutes for the next bus. The nearest bus stop to my office was also a 15-20 minute walk so I thought why to sweat it out in the heat when I can get a smooth ride and a cool way to get around using an E-scooter, especially in the summer heat.”
Oliver said he bought his E-scooter mainly for his office commute — a 10km stretch but after realising the benefits of using it, he now uses it for personal work and short distances since he has designated lanes in his locality. “I realised that it is easy to park an E-scooter; it’s hassle free, saves my time as I do not have to wait for cab or bus and also it helps me reach places faster without having to get stuck in traffic,” Oliver said.
Marketing manager Ronil Sinha said he regularly rents e-scooters since last year when the RTA introduced the ride in five designated zones. “Since I do not have a car, cab was the only option I had when I was in a hurry for meetings. When I compared the cost of renting a cab to that of renting an e-scooter, I realised renting the latter is much more economical. Also, my office is a 12-minute walk from my apartment in JLT, so I usually walk in the morning and evening. But with the onset of summers, I have started renting e-scooters that I can rent from right under my building (through a phone app) and my 12-minute office walk is now reduced to a four-minute fun ride,” Ronil said.
As the temperatures soar, Ronil says he is now considering purchasing an e-scooter as “an investment” since that would be cheaper in the long run.
Ronil uses Tier E-scooters, who charge Dh3 for unlocking the scooter and Dh1 per minute for the ride. Once you download the app, register and add a card for payment, the app shows you E-scooters available within a certain radius. The scooters are usually available in a designated area. Scanning the QR code on the scooter using the Tier app camera activates it and you are ready to ride.
Attracting more users
The E-scooter trial project in Dubai is operated by five companies that include both international labels and local businesses, such as Careem, Tier, Lime, Arnab and Skurrt.
Leading micro-mobility provider in Europe operating E-Scooters, E-Bikes and E-mopeds, Tier currently operates its E-scooter fleet in Downtown Dubai and Jumeirah Lake Towers (JLT).
Announcing slashed rates to encourage people to use e-scooters in the summers, Tier issued a statement that said: “Our mission is to change mobility for good that is why we want to support the daily commute and short trips during summer time by making it easier for people to move around their first and last mile journey. We are highly aware of the challenges people face when commuting during high temperatures, that is why we will be launching attractive packages during summer this year which will be discounted at a rate of up to 50 per cent. It is also crucial to highlight that using e-scooters will pose an advantage in terms of convenience and time for users, if we consider walking long distances under the burning sun during the hot summer months.”
Another popular E-scooter rental company is Careem that launched Careem Scooter virtual stations in February 2021 in two designated areas within Dubai, JLT and Al Rigga. The virtual stations are marked, geofenced areas on the ground allowing the rider to use and return the scooters in a designated area.
Promoting the use of E-scooters even during hot summer months, a Careem spokesperson said: “Micro-mobility is an important focus for Careem and we are keen to discover future possibilities in order to serve our communities especially in the hot summer months. Last-mile services such as bikes, scooters and the like are perfect for those summer months when walking is less of an option. The final mile of your commute from the nearest metro station to your office or from your taxi drop-point to your next meeting is the perfect chance to use these quick and easy transport services.”
How to rent an e-scooter
To rent an e-scooter in the designated areas in Dubai, one needs to download the mobile app of the desired E-scooter operator. The app will help riders find the nearest E-scooter with the help of GPS. Once you have successfully created an account, you can simply scan the QR code placed on the scooter at the designated station to start the ride. After reaching the desired destination, users must properly park their E-scooter at the designated station to stop the meter. When your ride ends, the app will prompt you to make the payment online. It costs Dh3 to unlock the e-scooter and then you have to pay Dh0.5 to Dh1 per minute for the ride, depending on different operators.
Safety guidelines for E-scooterists
*Users must be 14 years old and older.
*A protective helmet must be worn at all times.
*E-scooter riders must stay in their designated areas/lanes while riding in the city and park in designated parking slots.
*It is necessary to maintain a safe distance from other vehicles as well as pedestrians.
*E-scooterists must not carry any heavy objects or have additional riders as this may lead to accidents.
*Avoid wearing headphones or earphones during the rides.