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  • Writer's pictureKemiALondoner

What I learned from Labour Party Conference

It wasn't (only) politics

Labour party conference takes place in the nautical city of Liverpool, for the next 3 years at least. Its pretty hilly, not as stormy as Brighton, where I have also attended conference, but everything is spaced out and requires careful planning if you are to get from one place to another. Think of it like Glastonbury, but for your elected politicians, with less good music, worse options for food and drink and many more orations.

Goodness knows it is just as expensive and goes on just as late.

Due to a) having a bad knee and b) wanting to find out what all the fuss is about I thought i'd try a more active, way of travelling and try the bike/scooter hire services. Essentially I swapping walking for cycling and scootering which is in reality less active. But I thought it would be quicker, more climate friendly than a taxi, which would also be costly and impossible to get at such a busy time. In addition, the 'scourge' and sheer amount of complaints about these bike scooter hire companies in my own borough of Wandsworth made me want to give it a go. Liverpool being much safer environment than the busy London roads seemed a good idea.

As we got closer to the date I looked up the companies on offer in Liverpool. They only had VOI, so there was no price comparison to be made. I signed up, had to present my drivers licence to hire a scooter and do a short test to show I was aware of appropriate behaviour on the road. I was ready!

Day 1 - Bike hire - Firstly, it turned out bikes were gold dust. However, I managed to locate one at a bike hanger near my hotel and unleash it from the stand. Found a bike rack quite close to the arena and a bike path and road all the way there. Pretty simple. Cycled with added e-boost and got to the other side of the dock with no issues. Just as I was to complete the final 3 mins and turn into the event arena a red light came on and the bike slowed to a painful crawl. This area had been designated a no bike zone and there was no other route to get to the bike rack than on this road from this point. It was at this point I realised how heavy these bikes really are - VERY. I manually cycled the bike along the road to get to the bike rack, where I parked it considerately and went on my way. So, obviously the tech was clever enough to designate where you can use the e-boost, but not enough to stop you cycling.

Bike - 0 Kemi - 1 Cost - less than £4.50 for the day

Day 2 - No bike hire - There were no bikes this morning so I thought I'd try a scooter. Never having ridden a scooter in my life, this was going to be entertaining. The first two scooters I unleashed didn't have any charge (I thought), so I quickly cancelled, and my money was credited to my account immediately. The last one I got working so off I zoomed, this time taking a pedestrian shared path along the river to get as close as I could to the bike rack. Initially quite fun. this route then took me along a cobbled road. I can safely report that scooters are not made for uneven surfaces. By the time I reached a proper road my brain felt as if it had been put inside of a screaming baby's rattle. At least I made it to the event space with the e-boost. Managed to get a bike to cycle back which was much better

Scooter 1 Kemi -1 Cost less than £3

Day 3 - Scooter hire - Again no bikes to hire nearby, so I thought I'd take a scooter along the smooth bike path and walk the final 10 mins. Located a designated scooter bay on the other side of the dock and off I went. However, once I got to the other side of the dock and went to park the scooter I was informed this bay was full and my ride would not be able to end. I had to find the next one. The nearest bay, that wasn't full was pretty much equidistant to where I had travelled from. So whilst the journey was swift and painless considerately parking it negated the entire journey and I still had to walk 20 mins. Sigh. Liverpool also had a block on using the bikes or scooters after 10pm which I thought was unfortunate.

Scooter - 0 Kemi -0 Cost - £1.45

Overall, the bike/scooter hire experience wasn't bad, but I can see why bikes and scooters are left all over the place. From my experience many people in London are really inconsiderate by leaving them in the middle of pedestrian paths, instead of to the side or on a rack. However, I am hopeful that work can be done which could make these schemes more viable and useful, especially for night time workers, women and other vulnerable groups. Helping folks who need a little boost to get from A-B easily, quickly and safely.

Map of Liverpool with e-scooter hire icon

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