Watch: Reporter Kevin Clark takes one of Sunderland's new Zwings e-scooters for a spin
Sunderland’s e-scooter trial is back on the road.
Original operator Neuron announced in November that it was winding up the project after almost two years.
Within days, city council bosses confirmed a new partnership had been signed with Zwings, which would see the trial run through to May 2024.
Zwings e-scooters began appearing on the city’s streets last month and the firm held a safety training day in Keel Square today, Wednesday, March 1, to give potential new customers a chance to try their hand – and even receive a free helmet.
We sent Echo daredevil Kevin Clark to give it a go – here’s how it went:
I’ll be honest – I don’t think I've been on a scooter for more than ten seconds at a time since I learned to ride a bike at junior school.
I won’t say how old I am now, but it’s an anagram of 55.
And I’ve never so much as set foot on one of the swanky new generation of e-scooters which have been zipping around the city’s streets for the past couple of years.
So I am more than a little apprehensive as Zwings’ Steve Bee hands me my helmet and talks me through the induction.
Thankfully, the scooter’s controls are pretty much the same as that junior school bike – left hand controls the rear brake, so that’s the one you use first unless you want to come face-to-face with the pavement – and there’s even a bell, which you twist rather than ding, to raise the alarm for unwary pedestrians.
Steve takes me through how to get under way – push off BEFORE hitting the power, for a smooth start – then I’m off.
The first few seconds are a bit precarious, but then it all starts to come back.
Riding a scooter, it turns out, is like...well, I can’t think of an analogy right now, but I’m sure one will occur.
Within minutes I’m whizzing around Keel Square, slaloming around the planters and lamp-posts.
After five or so minutes, video editor Graham Murray has his footage in the can and the fun’s over.
I’m definitely up for more.