Riding a Trottinette Is an Acquired Skill

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“Oh come on, he doesn’t need a helmet! Riding a trottinette is easy.”

“He doesn’t understand how it works.”

“Sure he does.”

“He’s gonna fall.”

“It’s not that difficult!”

We bought Mark a trottinette, i.e. a kick scooter—but since none of us knew the proper terminology for it English, we adopted the French name. It sounds better, anyway.

I had a trottinette when I was a kid. It was bright red and my dad used a stencil to write “Juliette-Trottinette” on the handles, which was the coolest thing ever because I actually thought all the trottinettes had my name on them.

I can’t remember learning how to ride it, much like I can’t remember learning how to ride a bike, how to read or how to swim. Or, rather, I can’t remember not knowing. On the other hand, Feng acquired most of these skills as a young teen, when he came to Canada. This is probably why I would just give the trottinette to Mark and let him figure it out while Feng would bubble-wrap him and provide step-by-step instructions.

As usual, the truth lies somewhere in between. Mark understood how it works but he thought he’d be able to jump over the Loire River with his trottinette even though he can’t find his balance.

“Up… down. Foot up… foot down…”

“Oh, man!”

Yes, it’s harder than it seems. Riding a kick scooter is an acquired skill.

“Alright, I’ll show you.”

“Wow, you’re good at this mommy!”

“Well, I have years of experience… did you see my knees?”

I have old scars everywhere on my legs. Nothing too ugly or unusual, but once in a while, someone notices and asks me what happened. “Er… I fell off my bike/skateboard/surfboard at one point between the age of 3 and 34?” I reply, slightly puzzled—doesn’t everybody has scars from crash-landing after going downhill at full speed?

Mark has a new bandage on his left knee. Maybe we won’t register him for a Red Bull challenge yet. Meanwhile, we practise riding the trottinette in the evening, on Nantes’ smooth pavement.

Trottinette, day 1

Trottinette, day 1

Trottinette, day 1

The learning curve, between rue de la Fosse and place Royale

The learning curve, between rue de la Fosse and place Royale

The learning curve, between rue de la Fosse and place Royale

A couple of days later, on the Île de Nantes

A couple of days later, on the Île de Nantes

A couple of days later, on the Île de Nantes

A couple of days later, on the Île de Nantes

A couple of days later, on the Île de Nantes

A couple of days later, on the Île de Nantes

A couple of days later, on the Île de Nantes

A couple of days later, on the Île de Nantes

A couple of days later, on the Île de Nantes

A couple of days later, on the Île de Nantes

… and this is usually how it ends…

… and this is usually how it ends…

… and this is usually how it ends…

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About Author

French woman in English Canada. World citizen, new mom, traveler, translator, writer and photographer. Looking for comrades to start a new revolution.

20 Comments

  1. Martin Penwald on

    I vaguely remember learning to bike, but I’ve never had a trotinette nor a skateboard. And I’m scar free because I was too much of a wimp to let my bike go too fast. But I still got some memorable falls.

  2. it is “otopet” in my language. I guess it was adapted from Dutch not sure.
    I remember when my daughter a little younger than Mark, she felt down right away on her first attempt. It is hard to ride trottinette

  3. As a pedestrian, trottinettes are one of the things I hate the most. The sidewalks are fairly narrow around here, and as it seems like everyone has a trottinette, I’m constantly almost getting run over by them. If I hear or see one coming, I do tend to move out of the way – a “merci” would be nice every once and awhile, but it’s very rare. And the “riders” look at me out of annoyance. As sidewalks are made for pedestrians, I shouldn’t have to be the one accommodating them. Drives me nuts. And of course, my one dog loves the sound of the wheels (same goes for skateboards), so she tries to chase it each time.

    Mark looks cute on his trottinete though!

    • I have a big issue in Ottawa with people biking (at full speed) on the sidewalk. In Nantes too, in some places, but trottinettes aren’t that common on crowded sidewalks. Most kids practice on public square, where there is plenty of room. I guess it can be an issue when adults use it to commute.

      • Oh yeah, bikes too – especially the Deliveroo and the like bikers! And scooters. Like actual for the road scooters. Sometimes, I feel the sidewalks here are almost as dangerous as the roads. Kids with trottinettes are not the problem – they tend to be fairly respectful. Adults are the problem, and there are a lot of them.

  4. We don’t have room to store bikes here (it’s already a challenge for our 2 adult sized bikes), so for the twins birthday this year one of them got a skate (he thought it was the coolest thing) and the other one a scooter (patinete, for Brazilians). The scooter is much easier to ride than the skate, so guess what they are fighting over most days…

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