Here’s Where You Can Test Ride Scooters for Free This Weekend

Youth from the group My Block My Hood My City test-rode Lime scooters last year.
Youth from the group My Block My Hood My City test-rode Lime scooters last year.

It’s almost time to start the insanity, for better or for worse. Beginning Saturday, ten different dockless electric scooter companies will be unleashing up to 250 of the gizmos each on Chicago’s West and Northwest sides. Read all about the rules of the four-month pilot and the pros and cons of the technology here.

One things for sure: If you’re going to give e-scooters a spin, it’s best to get some orientation on proper riding technique, rules, and etiquette. After all, studies show that one out of three scooter injuries happened on a user’s very first ride. As such, we recommend that you take your maiden voyage after receiving proper orientation at one of these kickoff events.

Bird

Saturday, June 15, 1-4 p.m. at Antique Taco, 1360 North Milwaukee

This event features free scooter demos for new riders and a helmet giveaway. Unlike with bike-share, which has a better safety record that normal biking, it appears that it’s wisest to wear a helmet when riding a scooter for any significant distance, due to the small, pothole-sensitive wheels, high center of gravity, and low visibility to drivers. I also highly recommend Antique Taco’s fish tacos with smoked red cabbage.

Lime

Saturday, June 15, 10:30 a.m., Union Park, 1501 West Randolph, next to the pool at the northwest corner of the park.

Join 27th Ward alderman Walter Burnett Jr. and Maurice “Pha’tal” Perkins of the community group Think Outside da Block (he’s also a Mayor’s Bicycle Advisor Council community rep) for a “First Ride Academy.” The company plans to hold these info sessions several times a week in the pilot area. “These training courses will improve familiarity with scooters so riders know the basics of safe scooter riding and responsible parking,” the company said in a statement. In other words, don’t be a jerk and leave a scooter in the middle of the sidewalk where they’ll be a hazard for pedestrians and wheelchair users. Lime also requires users to watch a safety cartoon in its app explaining parking and etiquette (no sidewalk riding!), and safety tips. The company also plans to distribute free helmets to Chicagoans.

VeoRide

Saturday, June 15, 2-8 p.m. at the Taste of Randolph festival, 900 West Randolph.

The only Chicago-based scooter company participating in the pilot, VeoRide will be offering free test rides, safety education, and helmets at the fest. “This e-scooter safety education launch event is designed to help new users learn how to download the VeoRide app and sign up for an account, gain comfort and confidence on the e-scooters, and learn more about pedestrian rights and how to use and park the e-scooters in a safe way,” the company said in a statement. That, and getting to groove to the music of bassist George “Freak Man” Porter Jr. from the legendary New Orleans funk outfit The Meters, performing with his trio that evening, are great reasons to visit the fest.

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