Sunday, June 28, 2009

Scooting in San Francisco

From Lynn Ellen:

I decided to drive into San Francisco rather than take public transportation, which was a mixed blessing. it may have been more direct than transfering from BART to the city train, but the time it took to find a place to park probably evened it out. I did find a good spot, assembled my TravelScoot, and since I've purchased the Travel bags that Hardy sells, I put some supplies in the bag and slipped it over the stem of the seat. I also decided to attach the triangle soft basket, and the travel bag sort of set inside of it, and only once did I try to get off the Scoot by stepping into the center of the triangle, the strategy I used when I was first getting used to getting on and off. I am still hanging a shopping bag sized nylon bag from the handlebars for my immediate needs, which seems to work well.

As you know, San Francisco has a lot of hills. I parked in the middle of the street, and I was headed south, which meant going downhill. I didn't want to rely on the brakes, and if I let myself free-wheel down the hill, it was hard to stop even with brakes and my feet. so I sort of walked myself down the hill. Also there were lots of people walking in all directions. Finding curb cuts at each intersection was challenging, as well as avoiding getting my wheels caught in street car tracks, but the cars were having to go slow with all the foot traffic, so that was a plus. Sometimes people would not see me, or they'd step in my way suddenly. Sometimes I called out "excuse me" or just waited, but the sidewalk was narrow, and while there was grass to stand or walk on, not for me. I think this is still just a part of learning to navigate. The other challenge is when the sidewalk is not level, perhaps in both directions, or I have to navigate the sidewalk sloping down away from the houses and toward the streets, and then there are driveways that make the sidewalk go up and down. I find that I'm leaning toward the high side, or I just have to slow down. Being able to walk the Scoot at times is essential.

I got to Dolores Park, and I drove closer to the stage, but the most direct path involved two sets of about 5-6 stairs. I got off, and started to lift the Scoot sideways up the stairs. I held the handlebars in one hand, the back of the seat in the other, and lifted the front, then the back, step by step. with both lithium batteries, plus a bit of gear, the Scoot now weighs 40+ pounds, which is a bit heftier than what the frame weighs when I take it out of the car. I got some help from someone, but when she grabbed the seat back, the pad slipped off the stem. We just put it back on the stem, but this was an unexpected thing, and I hope it isn't going to come loose and fall off on its own.

I was able to half ride, half walk the Scoot over to the grass in front of the stage, but at one point there was a dip between sidewalk and grass, and I almost tipped over. I think getting off to navigate uneven surfaces is best. But I had my own ringside seat, and I find the emergency brakes very helpful, as even then the ground was sloped. I walked the Scoot back down the hill and the stairs were too crowded, and I got myself at the front of the Dyke March with the other Scooters. I had the only TravelScoot in the march, and it did just fine on the streets of the city, pacing the march just fine.

I did have a new mishap, however. I was pacing a group of women who were doing percussion together (the group is called "Sista Boom" and they are fabulous) and sharing my water with a friend who was percussing. The hill I was on was very gentle, but I think it was the fact that I wasn't changing my speed, so even though I was going slow, it was a constant load on the motor. All of a sudden it just stopped, but the green indicator lite stayed green. I walked it over to the curb, got off to swap the batteries, thinking that still might be the problem, and at that point I felt the motor and it was really hot. The other battery also turned the light green, but no go. So, I sat still, thinking that either I'd burned out the motor and it was dead, or, hopefully, it was just overheated, and once it cooled it would be fine. It was about 85 out, but I think this could have happened on a cooler day. I probably waited no more than 10-15 minutes and tried it again, and voila! it went fine. and that was the last time that happened, but in fact I was almost at the end of the march and was ready to go find my car.

Finding the car was a challenge, as I was off by a block in each direction, but fortunately I never had to try to go back uphill in the way that I looked for it. it was also dark when I was on my way back to the car, and I was aware that my visibility on the sidewalk, still filled with people meandering and partying, was difficult to navigate. I think I might get a bike light for future trips at night, especially when I'm alone. but never did I feel at risk for personal safety. I was just hoping that I wouldn't have to spend the rest of the night looking for my car! And I did find it, and packed up and head out for home. I think I'm ready for Australia!!


  1. Oh, Lynn... what an experience. Glad all worked out well. The hot motor would have freaked me out. I test my scoot to the limits, I am sure. Wow! My experience in Chicago was nothing compared to San Fran.

  2. I can't imagine trying to scoot in SF. When I visited there it seemed like everything was on a hill.

    I am glad you made it in and out of there safely!

    The overheated motor would of been very scary for me.

    Hardy if you are reading this, how common is overheating the motor? Could the scoot have a "bigger, badder, more powerful" motor to stop this from happening?

  3. Now that I know that the motor is likely designed to cut out when it hits a certain temperature (thanks to my smart friend Pat), I can try to notice if it gets hot or know that I can stop and let it cool down. Note that it happened when I was going up a small grade at a constant speed for a long time. I think it takes all those factors to make it happen.

    Another point of information: even if I have not used them on the scoot, the batteries lose some juice after several days but fortunately they can be topped off.