Zipping around town on an E-scooter is fairly commonplace for our continental cousins in metropolises such as Paris, Berlin and Rome.

But travel by these nippy, battery-powered vehicles has hitherto been an alien concept in the northern mill town of Rochdale.

That’s all about to change from next week, though, when a 12-month E-scooter trial is due to get underway.

The first 100 scooters will hit the streets of the town centre on Monday - in the hope of make it easier for residents to get around, cutting down on short car journey and perhaps acting as a 'stepping stone' for would-be cyclists.

And, of course, when I was invited to try one out for myself, I could hardly say no.

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The chance to put an E-scooter through its paces undoubtedly awakened some sort of childlike excitement in me.

That said, I don’t think I’ve been on a scooter of any description since I was in short trousers . And at 44 years not-so-young I was well aware I could be heading for a pratfall.

So it was with a combination of anticipation and fear of making an utter plank of myself that I turned up to at Rochdale Dun Elm’s car park to put my scooter skills to the test.

Yes, that beanie hat is to hide my 'lockdown' hair.

Joining me at the Whitworth Road site was Flora Byatt - my younger and much cooler colleague.

Hal Stevenson - public affairs manager for Lime, the company in charge of the trial, was awaiting us with a rack of the green-and-white scooters.

Local democracy reporter Nick Statham tries out one of the Lime E-scooters to be rolled out in Rochdale next week.

So, how do these things work?

Hal explained that you put one foot on to push off, then bring your other foot on to the board once you’re moving.

You squeeze a hand-operated accelerator to gain speed, while brakes on the handle bars are there to bring you to a halt.

Sounds simple? Well, actually it was, and I managed to get both feet on board without having some sort of embarrassing trip - and then we were off.

They may only have a maximum speed of 12mph but they ‘take off’ with a surprising kick when you squeeze the accelerator.

Soon I was cruising around the car park and finding the experience exhilarating and rather fun - albeit with a nagging fear a You’ve Been Framed-worthy moment could be seconds away.

Reporters Nick Statham and Flora Byatt with the new E-scooters.

It was difficult to tell how the scooters would deal with climbing some of the steeper hills of the town centre, but it seemed to make short work of the car park's slight incline.

Steering was also easy and doesn’t require any particular upper body strength or power to guide the scooter where you want to go.

Once you’ve finished your trip there’s a kickstand that flicks out from under the scooter to keep it stable and stationary.

Those in use from next will have to be parked up at designated parking zones in the town centre.

Although it was fun zipping around a homeware store’s car park, these are no toys and it is hoped their introduction will be a genuine boon for residents.

I asked Hal what positives they could bring to the town and the people who live there.

He said: “The main benefits are all around connectivity and sustainability - making it easier for Rochdale residents to travel to transport hubs and also make door-to-door journeys, but doing it in a sustainable way.”

Hal added that the scooters could have a ‘really positive impact’ on the environment - improving both air quality and congestion.

Reporters Nick Statham (right) and Flora Byatt with Hal Stevenson public affairs manager for Lime .

While some will be itching to try out the E-scooters from Monday, others have raised concerns over safety, obstruction and inconvenience for pedestrians and other road-users.

Hal said the scheme would only work in the long-term if it worked for everyone.

“We are not interested in turning up next week and dumping these scooters on the streets of Rochdale and you won’t see us again until the end of the trial.

“It’s not how Lime operates, it’s not how any responsible business in this sector operates.”

The scooters will be available to hire for those with a provisional or full driving licence, costing £1 to unlock and 15p per minute to ride.

Self-declared lower income users will be able to receive a 50pc discount, while key workers will ride for free under the firm’s Lime Aid policy.

Residents will also be able to to travel to and from their COVID-19 vaccine appointments free of charge via Lime’s Ride to Recover scheme, aimed at ensuring vaccination centres are accessible for all.

The scheme could expand to 500 scooters and move into areas including Castleton, Milnrow and Heywood if it proves successful.

There is an option for a six-month extension to the trial, subject to Department for Transport guidelines.