Images from 1916 show first E-Scooters in action as Suffragettes ride them around London

A newspaper article warning that scooters ‘might add new terrors to city life’ is included in a set of images dating back to the early 20th century that show the first motorised scooters in action.

The vehicles may seem like a new phenomenon, but these incredible black and white photographs from over a century ago reveal that they have actually been around before.

While the majority of these scooters, known as Autopeds, were powered by petrol, electric versions were also made available to the Edwardian public. 

Part of the vehicle’s popularity during the First World War was due to its very low fuel consumption, providing transportation for many who couldn’t afford a car or a motorcycle. 

A photo library features high-profile figures such as Lady Florence Norman, a British activist and Suffragette, who is seen riding her scooter around London in 1916.

Lady Florence Norman, a British activist and Suffragette, travelling to work on one of the first ever motorised scooters in London, circa 1916. Part of the vehicle’s popularity during the First World War was due to its very low fuel consumption

Four special delivery postmen for the US Postal Service try out their new scooters, known as the Autoped, in 1916. The image is part of a set showing the first ever motorised scooter craze over a hundred years ago

Four special delivery postmen for the US Postal Service try out their new scooters, known as the Autoped, in 1916. The image is part of a set showing the first ever motorised scooter craze over a hundred years ago

A couple share an Autoglider scooter in England, circa 1920. Electric scooters may seem like a new phenomenon, but these incredible photographs from over a century ago reveal that they have actually been around before

A couple share an Autoglider scooter in England, circa 1920. Electric scooters may seem like a new phenomenon, but these incredible photographs from over a century ago reveal that they have actually been around before

A man riding a German-built Krupp Autoped in Berlin, circa 1920. The motorised scooter flopped not long after the Great War ended. Practicalities got in the way, such as the vehicle weighing over 100lbs, making carrying it difficult

A man riding a German-built Krupp Autoped in Berlin, circa 1920. The motorised scooter flopped not long after the Great War ended. Practicalities got in the way, such as the vehicle weighing over 100lbs, making carrying it difficult

A newspaper clipping from 1916 warning of the potential dangers of the new scooter craze, with one subheading reading: 'Solo devil wagon taken up in a serious way might add new terrors to city life'

A newspaper clipping from 1916 warning of the potential dangers of the new scooter craze, with one subheading reading: ‘Solo devil wagon taken up in a serious way might add new terrors to city life’

The vehicle became a symbol of woman’s empowerment, with an advert featuring a Flapper riding an Autoped appearing in Puck magazine.  

American actress Lillian Lorraine is seen riding one in the set of images, as well as singer Shirley Kellogg. 

Businesses also gave the new-fangled devices a try, with the New York Postal Service delivering mail on them.

And more notoriously, some gangs in New York began carrying out crimes on them, using the scooters to escape from police. 

However, the motorised scooter flopped not long after the Great War ended. Practicalities got in the way, such as the vehicle weighing over 100lbs, making carrying it difficult.

And much like today, scooter riders were unsure to use the roads, which were unsuited to the scooter, or the pavement where they were mostly forbidden.

A surviving Autoped machine - image taken in the modern era. The contraptions fell out of fashion until 2020, when companies began putting hundreds of the vehicles onto the streets of Britain in trial schemes that have proved controversial

A surviving Autoped machine – image taken in the modern era. The contraptions fell out of fashion until 2020, when companies began putting hundreds of the vehicles onto the streets of Britain in trial schemes that have proved controversial

A woman pictured on an Autoped scooter, date unknown

American stage and screen actress Lillian Lorraine on her Autoped, circa 1918

A woman pictured on an Autoped scooter (left), date unknown, and American stage and screen actress Lillian Lorraine (right) on her Autoped, circa 1918

Arthur Hugo Cecil Gibson, the British inventor of the Autoped, pictured on his creation circa 1915. He gave up making the two wheelers in 1921, with other companies such as Birmingham-based Autoglider trying their hand at making the contraptions

Arthur Hugo Cecil Gibson, the British inventor of the Autoped, pictured on his creation circa 1915. He gave up making the two wheelers in 1921, with other companies such as Birmingham-based Autoglider trying their hand at making the contraptions

A newspaper cutting about Lady Norman's scooter use in London, circa 1916. The vehicle became a symbol of woman's empowerment, with an advert featuring a Flapper riding an Autoped appearing in Puck magazine

A newspaper cutting about Lady Norman’s scooter use in London, circa 1916. The vehicle became a symbol of woman’s empowerment, with an advert featuring a Flapper riding an Autoped appearing in Puck magazine

An American couple ride around on an Autoped scooter, circa 1918. While the majority of these scooters, known as Autopeds, were powered by petrol, electric versions were also made available to the Edwardian public

An American couple ride around on an Autoped scooter, circa 1918. While the majority of these scooters, known as Autopeds, were powered by petrol, electric versions were also made available to the Edwardian public

Timothy Porter, a traffic cop in Newark, New Jersey, rides about on an Autoped in 1922. Much like today, scooter riders were unsure to use the roads, which were unsuited to the scooter, or the pavement where they were mostly forbidden

Timothy Porter, a traffic cop in Newark, New Jersey, rides about on an Autoped in 1922. Much like today, scooter riders were unsure to use the roads, which were unsuited to the scooter, or the pavement where they were mostly forbidden

A newspaper clipping about actress Shirley Kellogg riding an Autoped in Hyde Park, London, from January 1917. More notoriously, some gangs in New York began carrying out crimes on them, using the scooters to escape from police

A newspaper clipping about actress Shirley Kellogg riding an Autoped in Hyde Park, London, from January 1917. More notoriously, some gangs in New York began carrying out crimes on them, using the scooters to escape from police

Even the Autoped’s British American-based inventor Arthur Hugo Cecil Gibson gave up making the two wheelers in 1921.

Despite other companies such as Birmingham-based Autoglider trying their hand at making the contraptions, they fell out of fashion.

That was until last year, when scooter companies began putting hundreds of the vehicles out onto the streets of Britain in trial schemes that have proved controversial, with many calling for them to be banned after accidents.

However, others see them as a useful alternative transport method that doesn’t pollute town centres. Some areas such as London and Oxford are running the pilot schemes, with scooters left in ranks for people to use.

A man on an Autoglider scooter in Birmingham, circa 1920. Some people now see them as a useful alternative transport method that doesn't pollute town centres

A man on an Autoglider scooter in Birmingham, circa 1920. Some people now see them as a useful alternative transport method that doesn’t pollute town centres

An advertisement that appeared in Puck magazine for the Autoped, featuring a woman fearlessly riding the vehicle, adding to the scooter's association with female empowerment, from 1916

An advertisement that appeared in Puck magazine for the Autoped, featuring a woman fearlessly riding the vehicle, adding to the scooter’s association with female empowerment, from 1916

Two men show how to operate an Autoped, date and location unknown. Some areas such as London and Oxford are now running pilot schemes for the vehicles, which are left in ranks for people to use

Two men show how to operate an Autoped, date and location unknown. Some areas such as London and Oxford are now running pilot schemes for the vehicles, which are left in ranks for people to use

A man and woman ride two scooters in the city of Porto, Portugal, circa 1918. Many people are now calling for the controversial vehicles to be banned after accidents

A man and woman ride two scooters in the city of Porto, Portugal, circa 1918. Many people are now calling for the controversial vehicles to be banned after accidents

Ernest B. Daniels, a Marine from Boston, Massachusetts, on his Autoped, circa 1921

A man riding a German-built Krupp Autoped in Berlin, circa 1920

Ernest B. Daniels, a Marine from Boston, Massachusetts, on his Autoped, circa 1921 (pictured left) and a man riding a German-built Krupp Autoped in Berlin, circa 1920 (right)

But police in Plymouth warned in May the laws of the road still apply in non-trial areas – and riders faced arrest. 

And Voi, one of several operators who have launched schemes in more than 50 English towns and cities over the past 18 months, said in August that over 1,000 people had been banned for seven days for antisocial riding. 

Although the scooters are designed to carry one person, drivers with passengers hanging on to the back of them have become common.

There have also been complaints about the scooters being driven by children as young as ten on main roads and causing an obstruction to pedestrians – especially blind and disabled people. 

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