Pokemon Craze

Scooting along to catch 'em all

Mr Lee, who spends three to four hours on weekend nights catching Pokemon at East Coast Park near his home, spent $1,300 on an e-scooter to, among other things, catch a rare Pokemon faster and more easily. With his iPhone 6 Plus mounted on his e-scoo
Mr Lee, who spends three to four hours on weekend nights catching Pokemon at East Coast Park near his home, spent $1,300 on an e-scooter to, among other things, catch a rare Pokemon faster and more easily.ST PHOTO: TREVOR TAN
Mr Lee, who spends three to four hours on weekend nights catching Pokemon at East Coast Park near his home, spent $1,300 on an e-scooter to, among other things, catch a rare Pokemon faster and more easily. With his iPhone 6 Plus mounted on his e-scoo
With his iPhone 6 Plus mounted on his e-scooter, Mr Lee can catch Pokemon faster and hatch Pokemon eggs with minimal effort.ST PHOTO: TREVOR TAN

The Pokemon Go craze has seen increased sales of e-scooters and accessories too

Mr Daniel Lee was struck by such a severe case of Pokemon Go fever that, two months ago, he spent $1,300 on an electric scooter to catch 'em all.

"With a scooter, it is much less tiring to travel long distances, and it is quicker to hatch eggs and walk your buddy," said the 36-year-old senior communications manager. "If a rare Pokemon appears, you can also reach it much faster."

Mr Lee spends three to four hours on weekend nights catching Pokemon at East Coast Park, which is near his house.

He has also outfitted his e-scooter with Pokemon-hunting accessories, such as a smartphone mount with an integrated power bank and a headlamp to help him navigate at night.

While investing in an e-scooter is rare even among Pokemon fanatics here, it can help avid trainers gain an edge and retailers are seeing more e-scooter owners outfit their ride for the hunt.

The Straits Times reported earlier this week that some e-scooter retailers have seen sales more than triple since a year ago, because of stricter rules on the alternative electric bicycle which were put in place last December.

Retailers said that while this steady increase has not been augmented by the release of Pokemon Go in August, they have seen a 10 to 40 per cent surge in the sale of accessories such as phone mounts and headlamps.

Mr Wang Jing Fang, manager of Scooter Hub, said: "I am not too sure if the Pokemon craze increased our scooter sales, but I have many more customers telling us that they'll be using their scooters to catch Pokemon."

He added that the sale of mobile phone mounts has increased by 30 to 40 per cent. These mounts are usually attached to the scooter's handlebar, and allow riders to keep an eye on their phones - and nearby Pokemon - while on the move.

At Falcon PEV, marketing executive Kelita Yeo said that while scooter sales have remained constant, accessory sales have gone up by 10 to 20 per cent. Besides phone mounts, Falcon also sells headlamps.

Ms Yeo said: "Many people go out to catch Pokemon in the evenings after work, and it can get quite dark. Headlamps can help them see any potential obstacles on the road."

Avid Pokemon trainers say that e-scooters can cut down on tedious legwork and are versatile enough to travel both on pavements and in the parks.

Operations assistant Chai Shu Kiat, 24, meets up with his friends almost every night to catch Pokemon, and his favourite haunts include hot spots such as Block 401 in Hougang and Changi Village.

"Riding a scooter makes it a lot less tiring to get from one point to another," he said. "For example, there were a lot of Charmanders spawning at East Coast Park recently, and we could easily travel up and down to get them."

For executive assistant Shirley Chen Peihua, 31, one of the perks of riding an e-scooter is how versatile it is. "Scooters can get you to places that are hard to reach on foot, and we don't need to stop on the road as I've seen some cars do," she said.

Ms Chen added that e-scooters are also eco-friendly, as they operate on electricity and not petrol.

Under the Government's Active Mobility Advisory Panel guidelines, which were proposed in March this year and are set to become law, e-scooters are allowed on footpaths, cycling paths and shared paths, but not on roads.

Meanwhile, riders should still take precautions when riding. Mr Swen Einhaus, founder of the Big Wheel Scooters Singapore Facebook group, said that the group has a set of etiquette guidelines for e-scooter riders, whether Pokemon hunting or not.

These include always dismounting and pushing the scooter at zebra crossings, traffic lights and bus stops, as well as angling headlamps downwards to avoid accidentally blinding others.

As for Mr Lee, he has also capped the speed of his scooter, so that it tops out at around 15kmh for safety.

He said: "For me, riding an e-scooter is not just about catching Pokemon. I also discover that when I am outdoors scooting in the park, it is very relaxing and I can enjoy the scenery."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 12, 2016, with the headline 'Scooting along to catch 'em all'. Print Edition | Subscribe