Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 18 September 2019

E-asy riders: Abu Dhabi's e-scooter 'family' is on the rise

A move to legalise scooters rentals is proving a hit in the emirate

Restaurant workers Joylan Arcona, Perryl Malapitan and Sumaya Indog are members of a growing e-scooter community in Abu Dhabi. Victor Besa/The National
Restaurant workers Joylan Arcona, Perryl Malapitan and Sumaya Indog are members of a growing e-scooter community in Abu Dhabi. Victor Besa/The National

Abu Dhabi commuters are swapping cars and pedal bikes for e-scooters — to beat the heat and help cut congestion.

The two-wheeled vehicles have enjoyed a surge of interest since transport chiefs rolled out a plan to allow them to be rented in certain parts of the emirate last month.

The city's transport authority said the vehicles can be used on the Corniche and Khalifa Street in an initial trial to last between six and 12 months.

Scooters must be restricted to 15-20km per hour speeds under the scheme.

Ownership of the scooters was already legal, but it is hoped the rental initiative will encourage more people to give them a try.

Samuel Soliguen purchased an e-scooter in April and has been using it on his commute to work ever since.

“I saw it with a friend so I bought it from him,” said the 30-year-old barista, from the Philippines.

“It is convenient and saves a lot of money.”

For Abu Dhabi resident Mr Soliguen the e-scooter is more than a convenient mode of transport — it has become a way of life.

Last June he joined the social group E-Kick Scooter Abu Dhabi, and has been joining them on rides at least three times a week.

“I found them on Facebook and I was curious to find out more about them, so I messaged the leader and she invited me to join.

“So I went to their meeting place and I found many e-scooter riders there.”

And the group keeps on growing.

“When I joined there were 15 riders, now we have 50," he said.

“We go to a certain place to meet, then before the ride we talk about the scooters and how we can improve them.

“We talk about our lives here and work; it is like we have built a family. If someone is looking for a job, we try to help reach someone who is hiring.”

When they go out for a ride, they wear matching T-shirts with the group’s name printed on the back, and the veteran members act as marshals guiding them through the route.

“It is a growing community; and the good thing is it includes different nationalities, not only Filipinos,” he said.

It is convenient and saves a lot of money

Samuel Soliguen

E-scooter fever is also catching on among employees at the House of Special La Paz Batchoy restaurant on Airport Road.

After headwaiter Perryl Malapitan bought his e-scooter, three of his co-workers followed suit.

“I used to have a mountain bike which I would ride with a biking group, but in the summer it became very hot so I sold all of my three bikes and bought a scooter,” said the Filipino, 44.

“It is quicker to get to work, and because of the heat it is more tolerable to ride a scooter, the bike is exhausting in hot weather.”

When the Department of Transport announced they were legalising e-scooter rentals in the emirate, Mr Malapitan said they became more confident to ride the two-wheeler.

Mr Malapitan also became a member of the E-kick scooter group.

Barista Sam Soliguen has been using his e-scooter for his commute to work for a number of months. Victor Besa/The National
Barista Sam Soliguen has been using his e-scooter for his commute to work for a number of months. Victor Besa/The National

His colleague Sumaya Indong, 23, said she cannot wait to take her new ride back home to the Philippines to spread the word among family and friends.

“It is my first ride. I had never rode a bike or anything similar before,” said the waitress.

“Now I want to take it home with me when I go for holiday to show my family and friends how an e-scooter is good transportation.’

When she first moved to Abu Dhabi a year ago, she used to take the public bus to work.

“It used to take me 30 minutes to come from Tourist Club area, now it takes me 20 minutes on the scooter.”

At her home town in Mindanao, almost nobody rides an e-scooter, she said.

“That is why I want to take it with me.”

She recently ordered two new e-scooters online, and is awaiting their arrival.

The new regulations allowing e-scooter rentals in Abu Dhabi are set to widen their use, allowing residents to try before they buy.

The Berlin based company Circ launched e-scooter self-service rental scheme in the emirate on July 28. Users can download the company’s mobile application to find the location of a nearby e-scooter. Once found, they can scan the QR code to unlock it, and hop on.

E-scooter riders are set to become a familiar presence in Abu Dhabi after a rental initiative was rolled out. Victor Besa/The National
E-scooter riders are set to become a familiar presence in Abu Dhabi after a rental initiative was rolled out. Victor Besa/The National

The base fare is Dh3 to unlock it, and once the ride begins users are charged Dh1 per minute.

“It is a lot cheaper than a taxi,” said Jaideep Dhanoa, co-founder and chief executive of Circ in the Mena region.

“Right now we are offering free rides to all first time users, so you get to try out the service and see if it is useful for you.

“And those who do two rides a week, get a free ride for the next week for up to 15 minutes,” he said.

The e-scooters are currently available across various locations in Abu Dhabi city, including the Corniche, World Trade Centre area, Khalidiyah Mall area, and in Al Bateen across the coast.

“And we are working with DOT to expand our coverage; it is just a matter of time,” said Mr Dhanoa.

Updated: August 17, 2019 12:53 PM

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