Lady Florence Norman – The Scooter riding Suffragette

In London and many other cities, they are the either a much needed liberating ‘last-mile’ mode of transport or the latest bane on urban life. Scooters, particularly those standing e-scooters are loved by riders and seemingly hated by many others in equal measures.

They seemed to appear almost overnight in 2019 or 2020 as if they were harbingers of a covid destruction. One thing they aren’t though is new and neither is having someone nearly ride into you.

 Lady Florence Norman, a British activist and Suffragette, who is seen riding her scooter around London in 1916.

Petrol but also electric scooters of Autopeds as they were known were driven all over Edwardian London and many other places besides.

Like today they opened up new frontiers of easy travelling for those too old or unfit to walk or cycle or too young or poor to have a motorbike or car. They were particularly popular in WW1 Britain as they had a very low fuel consumption. As can be seen in the photo above, they were also a symbol of female empowerment.

Just as today with food delivery services even back then  businesses also gave the new-fangled contraptions a try, with some postal services using them to make deliveries whilst gangs quickly made use of them to carry out crimes and back quick getaways.

However, these scooters flopped not long after the Great War ended. The practicality of lugging around 100lb vehicles were not insignificant, especially for ladies and just as we have today scooter riders were unsure as to whether to use the roads, which were unsuited to the scooter, or the pavement where they were mostly forbidden.

About Stephen Liddell

I am a writer and traveller with a penchant for history and getting off the beaten track. With several books to my name including several #1 sellers. I also write environmental, travel and history articles for magazines as well as freelance work. I run my private tours company with one tour stated by the leading travel website as being with the #1 authentic London Experience. Recently I've appeared on BBC Radio and Bloomberg TV and am waiting on the filming of a ghost story on British TV. I run my own private UK tours company (Ye Olde England Tours) with small, private and totally customisable guided tours run by myself!
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