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.

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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.

(from left) Zwings operations manager Jason Oldale, COO Stephen Bee and Sunderland City Council sustainable travel officer Vicky Tubman
(from left) Zwings operations manager Jason Oldale, COO Stephen Bee and Sunderland City Council sustainable travel officer Vicky Tubman
(from left) Zwings operations manager Jason Oldale, COO Stephen Bee and Sunderland City Council sustainable travel officer Vicky Tubman

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.

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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.

Zwings COO Stephen Bee giving instructions to Sunderland Echo reporter Kevin Clark ahead of his test ride
Zwings COO Stephen Bee giving instructions to Sunderland Echo reporter Kevin Clark ahead of his test ride
Zwings COO Stephen Bee giving instructions to Sunderland Echo reporter Kevin Clark ahead of his test ride

So I am more than a little apprehensive as Zwings’ Steve Bee hands me my helmet and talks me through the induction.

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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.

Kevin hits the road
Kevin hits the road
Kevin hits the road
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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.