Everyone knows that traffic as well as finding a parking space are big issues in Antwerp. Big cities like Antwerp and Brussels try to discourage individual car use as much as possible. They try to do this by promoting the public transportation means and shared services like Velo or Poppy in Antwerp. By providing these services, they try to offer a solution for the mobility problem. As discussed in a previous article, there is also the app Whim who tries to give alternative means of transportation and focuses on combining different forms of transport. Unfortunately, the app Whim is not that creative in finding alternative ways of transportation. Using the bus or taxi still does not always offer a solution. We notice that people are still searching for other solutions and new ways of transportation.
As of November, a new means of transportation can be found in Antwerp. Walking around the city, you can see people passing by on electric steps/scooters, an odd picture for many tourists. With a step, we mostly think about the child version, where you have to use your feet to gain speed. This means of transportation is actually meant for adults. The step has an integrated battery with a speed and brake button, that makes it possible for the user to cruise trough the city in a fast and efficient way, using electric energy. This step can be seen as an alternative for a car, and not as a product of technology.
A company that applies this principle is Bird, an electric scooter rental service that lets people use a step for a short period of time, trough an application on their mobile phone. Bird is a company from the USA and makes you pay per use. According to the duration of the ride, you have to pay extra. This concept is a hype in Antwerp and can be found everywhere around the centre of Antwerp, between 7 am and 7 pm.
Using Bird can be a good solution, but can be very expensive when having to travel more then 10 kilometres a day. Another disadvantage of Bird is poor quality. The steps can easily break down. In this article, we will therefore not focus on Bird itself, but on a store, located in the Sint- Jozefstraat in Antwerp.
The store, called MY MOBELITY, is located close to the Meir and sells steps. A true booming business, so it seems. It is the first specialised store for electric scooters in Belgium. They started business in June and sell different models, according to the needs and desires of the customer. With some models, different colors are possible and can be chosen. The store itself displays different models of high quality scooters. The price for a scooter can range from around 350 up to 1000 euros, and are sold with a 1year warrant for the battery. Maintenance can be done as well. The scooters can drive up to 30 kilometres on one battery charge. All the scooters are in stock, so a scooter can be bought and taken home immediately. Most buyers are between 40-55 years old.
The biggest advantages of buying a scooter at My Mobelity, instead of renting one trough Bird, are that the scooters of Bird can only be used until 7 pm. Also, having your personal scooter can be way cheaper in the long run when having to do more then 10 kilometres a day and travelling a lot of short distances in the centre of the city. You can just fold up the scooter and put it under your desk.
Some people use the scooter so they can park their car outside of the city, avoiding traffic and paying for a parking space, and use the scooter to travel from the parking space to their office. Another trend that is being noticed is that certain jobs, for instance a real estate agent, use the scooter to get to places that are difficult to get to by car in a short amount of time. Also people that travel by train and need a transportation means to get from the station to their job, seem to buy a scooter more often. For that, a light weight scooter can be bought, made especially to pick up and carry when necessary.
In the store, safety is being emphasized. Therefore, it is also possible to buy a helmet or fluorescent attributes. Furthermore, you can also take a test drive on a scooter, when thinking about purchasing one. We ourselves took a little test drive on the scooter and must say it was truly a smooth ride. The scooters are easy to drive with and just very easy to charge and take with you. In conclusion: Tested and Approved!
Definitely check out the website of My Mobelity – http://www.mymobelity.com/ or scroll trough their Instagram account – mymobelity.
Hope to see you cruising on your own scooter soon!
By Barbara Allaert and Henri Desmet (firstname.lastname@example.org)