Gliding through the park, the wind in my hair, I overtake a 13-year-old boy on a bike, who tuts loudly, possibly because I’m going too fast, or possibly because he thinks I look too old to be doing this.
A woman walking her dog gives me a look of bemusement – or it is pity? – as the animal tries to keep pace with my wheels. There is a fine line between looking like a post-school run mum on the daily commute and Lembit Opik on a Segway – and I am wobbling along it.
Like thousands of four-year-olds across the country, I have a favourite new toy: a two-wheel push-along scooter. Fed up with living in a public transport blackspot, with my commute to work often taking more than an hour – even though I only live five miles away – I have invested in an adult Micro Scooter.
I tried nearly everything else. Walking took too long, running needed a shower and a change of clothes (carried on my back) once I got to work. I used to cycle, but then my bike got stolen and I was too afraid of accidents to replace it. The bus is always late and gets stuck in traffic, making me miss the train. Where I live in South London, there is no Tube. So apart from horse riding – and I don’t think I could park a horse at the House of Commons, where I spend my week – the scooter was my last hope.
I don’t scoot all the way – I’m not sure my knees would take it – but zipping through my local park to the train station has shortened my total journey to work by half an hour. I also get around 40 minutes of vigorous exercise every day, so in the few weeks of scooting, I’ve already lost half a stone.
Teenagers may laugh at me, but my four-year-old daughter loves my new wheels. She’s had a green and turquoise Ride and Glide Micro Scooter for nearly two years, so thinks of herself as a veteran. When we go to the park on our scooters, she is full of advice – she tells me the right place to park at the swings and the best slopes for zooming downhill. But it’s once I’ve dropped her off at school that my scooting gets serious.
There are certain safety issues – I never go on the road, but stick to the pavement (I checked this was OK with a policeman, who said he wanted one for himself). I should probably don a helmet, although it feels odd wearing one on the pavement. It’s gets a bit slippery in the rain, particularly with soggy leaves spattered across the pavement.
I have to remember to swap legs, one for pushing off, the other to anchor onto the footplate, or else I might end up with the scooting equivalent of a javelin thrower’s arm on my left leg. Going uphill is hard work – but that’s all good for the stomach muscles – and downhill is a breeze, as long as you keep your foot hovering over the brake.
Once I’m on the train, I have to fold it – my scooter collapses at the push of a button – or else it becomes as safe as a cutlass swinging against people’s ankles.
As every school run is swamped by children on their scooters, I only wonder why more grown-ups don’t copy them to get to work? Maybe it is the cost – my Micro White Scooter was £159.95 (there are cheaper versions), although in a few months I will have saved this amount in bus fares.
We adult scooters are so rare, it seems, that when I see another one we exchange a little wave, like drivers of VW Beetles or Minis honking their horns at each other.
But we are growing in number: according to Micro Scooters, last year, 2 per cent of its sales were to adults, but this year it has risen to 5 to 7 per cent. The company says it is receiving more orders for Christmas from adults wanting scooters for their other halves, compared to last year. We may get some odd looks in the park, but there are more of us than ever doing the scoot commute.