Tired of tedious transport: South West London commuters swap trains for scooters and skateboards


Some professionals have found more exciting ways to travel to work.


By Kerrina Gray

Squashed into a train carriage with your head up a businessman’s armpit and your hand clutching any part of a stranger in order not to fall over? Look out of the window and notice the new army of men and women flying down the road in their suits.

Increasingly commuters have had enough and are trading the train for a new alternative. It might feel a bit like you’re regressing back to a pre-pubescent age. It might even turn the streets of South West London into a school playground. But more and more of us are scooting, skateboarding or even rollerblading to work to avoid the stress and sweat of the trains.

Andrew Jacobs, 46, works in Vauxhall and has been scootering his 40-minute journey to work every day for the last ten years.

He passes famous London landmarks on his way in and says he wouldn’t have it any other way.

“I love looking out over the City in the morning and Waterloo Bridge in the evening. I get to see Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament every day,” he said.

“There’s a number of reasons I chose this mode of transport but mostly because I get time to think. For a little over an hour every day I have the freedom to go the route I want, at the pace I want, with no interruptions.”

Andrew says he would cycle to work but wouldn’t feel safe on the roads every day. Instead he recommends using a scooter to almost anyone. But even that doesn’t stop his workmates in the Learning and Development team he manages teasing.

“For 200 days a year my workmates smirk as I layer up for my journeys. On the days there are travel problems, such as tube strikes, I’m in a winning position. When the sun comes out and we have a summer, the envy is palpable as I ride home with the sun on my back.”

His top tips are making sure you keep a spare pair of shoes with you for those unexpected wet journeys, but he says it isn’t hard to wear a suit to commute on a scooter.

Alex Philp, a young professional living in Battersea, isn’t able to make it all the way to work on his skateboard, although he says he definitely would if he lived a bit nearer. Instead, he has been skateboarding to the train station since he moved to the area last year. 

“Being able to skateboard allowed me to take a cheaper house further away from the station, and it’s just a fun way to start the day,” he said.

Alex, 21, works in Surrey as a trainee Actuary but wanted to live in South West London for the lifestyle it offers.

“I feel comfortable skateboarding through Battersea and Clapham, it’s not really that embarrassing because there’s such a range of characters in this part of London. I always see other people in suits on scooters or on skateboards, we have a little smile at each other. I just like staying in bed that extra 10 minutes.”

For Alex skateboarding was a childhood hobby and something which he did at weekends. When he moved in he noticed other people skateboarding and scootering as he walked to the station and it seemed only natural to take up his old pastime.

But isn’t it uncomfortable skateboarding in a suit?

“I don’t wear knee pads underneath or anything and so far I haven’t fallen off. To be honest, it’s better than running all the way to the station because I’ve got out of bed late and then rocking up to work all sweaty.

“It’s dress down Friday at work every week so on those days I can even wear my skater clothes, I’m famous for it with my colleagues. Now some of them are giving it a go, they even want me to give them lessons.”

Walk past a train station and you’ll start to see more of the bike racks filled with scooters. Cycling in South West London has taken a bit of a hit in recent years as accidents become more and more common.

Michael Oyibo works at Halfords on Lombard Road in Clapham and said he has seen more adults of a professional age buy skateboards and especially scooters. Some may even pretend to be buying them for their children.

“I don’t really think it’s a good idea skateboarding or scooting to work, it’s a bit embarrassing really. But what can I tell them? I even saw someone rollerblade to work once but I’d never do it.”

Although Michael thinks saving money on rising commuter costs is a good idea, he recommends a different way of travelling.

“Cycling is definitely the best way to get to work, I’d recommend that to anyone. Saving the planet and saving money at the same time. Plus you don’t look silly.”

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