Category Archives: Active urban transport

Electric Mobility Innovation Round-up – Electric rollerblades and more

Here is a roundup of the latest in electric personal transportation equipment covered by Gizmag or discovered on Kickstarter:

Electric rollerblades: I had seen off-road roller-skates and roller blades before but I had never come across electric rollerblades until I read about Polish inventor’s Jack Skopinsi new off-road electric rollerblades. He designed these in response to customer requests for portable personal transportation that could be carried in a bag. Cost is around $1,200.

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Jack Skopinski’s Off-Road Electric Rollerblades

Electric scooter and e-bikes: ETT industries designed one of each. As Gizmag reports, the firm won a design award for the bike’s unconventional industrial design. The range on these vehicles is 50 miles (impressive) after a 5-hour charge. The scooter can travel up to 45 km/h while the bike’s top speed is 25 km/h. Scooters are more expensive at $3.8K while bikes are $2.4K.

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e-Scooter from ETT Industries

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Go Boston 2030: Transportation Access Plans

Boston is a highly walkable city (ranks third for walkability) but a study by the University of Minnesota’s Center for Transportation Studies shows that Boston’s public transit system doesn’t rank as highly, particularly when measuring jobs accessibility via public transit; Boston ranks third in the nation for employment, but sixth in the nation for job accessibility (based on the number of jobs accessible within a 30-minute commute). Apparently car-loving LA has better accessibility via public transit.

This issue of access to reliable transportation is being addressed through Go Boston 2030, Boston’s first transportation plan in 50 years. Access is one of three key goals for Go Boston 2030 (the other two are safety and reliability). The city’s goal for access is for every household to be “within a 10-minute walk of a rail station or key bus route, Hubway station [Boston’s bike sharing system], and car-share.” As a side note, it is interesting that car-sharing is considered an alternative to public transportation when a key goal for Boston 2030 is to reduce single-driver commutes by half in 2030 (from 40% of commutes to 20% of commutes). However, I do admire the Boston Transportation Department for putting out a very measurable goal that will give Boston households an alternative to owning a car.

Your-vision

Access to public transit is not equal across Boston neighborhoods, so I learned last week during Go Boston’s 2030 scenario workshops. Not surprisingly, lower-income neighborhoods and neighborhoods with a high representation of non-white households tend to have poor public transit service; buses and commuter rails are too far to walk to and they are less reliable than public transit in more affluent neighborhoods. And walking often feels unsafe due to speeding drivers. As a result, individuals in these neighborhoods are more likely to be car dependent. Under 15% of Bostonians live in car dependent places, but this rises to over 30% for those in the lower income bracket (see Go Boston 2030’s Vision report).

These discrepancies in transit service mean that lower-income neighborhoods should see a larger share of transit investments over the next decade compared to more affluent neighborhoods. It appears that a key focus will be improving and/or adding transit options to the Longwood Medical Center, a key job center for lower-income neighborhoods. Addressing the transportation issues of these lower-income neighborhoods will not only address Go Boston 2030’s access goals but should accelerate progress towards an 80% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

 

Fun Alt Transport April Fool’s

April 1st is my son’s birthday. Unfortunately, making funny jokes is not in his skill set yet, in spite of his best efforts. He got that unfunny gene from his mom. So this post is not another April Fool’s day hoax but one about the fooleries invented by the alternative transport industry. The most popular ones are those in the grey zone; the ones that don’t seem so foolish. Shareable tandem bicycles and electric scooters – why not? As fads and fashions change rapidly so too might preferred modes of transit.There were many AFDJ (April Fool’s Day Jokes) by bike sharing organizations so I restrained myself to mention only those from cities that I have personal ties to.

London: Santander Cycles received hundreds of likes and retweets for its announcement of Santandems (#Santandems): a tandem bike for two.

Santander bike share AFDJ

Many commentators thought this concept should live beyond April’s Fool day. Responses from Santander Cycles were a bit uninspiring however.

Santander tweets

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French Start-up aims to Tackle Global Warming and Obesity with a Kick Scooter

As a scooter enthusiast, I was very excited to learn about La Galoche, a new French company building an innovative kick scooter, or trotinette, for daily commuting. The founders spent hours brainstorming product ideas with the aim of tackling some of the earth’s most difficult challenges: global warming, unhappiness, and obesity. They all agreed on the kick scooter as the logical answer. As a daily kick scooter rider myself, I couldn’t agree more. Their ambition is to create a scooter that is more elegant, high-tech and functional than the typical adult scooter. Some of the scooter’s unique features include: a built in light, hand and foot breaks, a carrying handle, and a mobile app that gives navigation instructions, tracks calories and distance.

La Galoche Image

The company is part of an incubator (Transalley) based in Valenciennes (northern part of France) focused on transportation / mobility start-ups. In March 2016, they won first place in a mobility start-up competition with their prototype. They are now looking for manufacturers in Northern France. Best of luck to the La Galoche team during the production stage. I can’t wait to test drive their scooter next time I am in France.

Crowdfunded Projects for Happy Commutes

Crowdfunding sites have seen a growing number of happy commutes related projects over the last few years, from electric bikes and scooters to high tech backpacks and clothing. As I find new products with potential to enhance commutes, I will write about them, or, at a minimum pin a picture of them to Pinterest. A key goal for Happy Commutes is to create an outlet for more user testing of new commuting gear to help innovators reach their funding goals.

Boston-based readers!: If you see a commuting product that catches your fancy, give me a shout. If I get enough interest, I will try to secure a demo version for trials.

Follow my Pinterest board to stay in the loop: Follow Sophie’s board Crowdfunded Projects for Happy Commutes on Pinterest.

Kick Scooters: Ideal for Cities Like Boston

IMG_0979If I can, I opt to commute by kick scooter. It might seem dorky or childish to some, but kick scooters truly are perfect urban transport solutions for Boston, a relatively flat city. Now I do like my electric scooter too  for long (>2 mile commutes). But, let’s be honest, you don’t get much exercise on an electric vehicle. Kick scooting gives you a bit more huff and puff than walking without causing much sweat, particularly if your commute is peppered with slight downslopes. So, kick scooters rocks and here are seven reasons why:

  • They are easy to fold and carry to an office, into a store, on a bus etc.
  • Combine them with other types of transportation: walking, public transportation, driving…
  • You can do it with young and old (I have seen many grandmothers pick up the sport to keep up with their grand kids)
  • You don’t need a lot of balance to get started
  • Get on and off them easily
    • The risk of serious injuries is not as high as with bicycles (unless of course you are doing ramps and jumps).
  • And, according to my 9 year old daughter: “It’s really really fun to ride”

If you commute two miles or less and have access to walking paths, consider a kick scooter.

If you live in the Boston-area, make an appointment to demo a full range of Micro kick scooters. Contact me here to make an appointment.

Would you try commuting with a kick scooter?

 

The Lighter eScooter

My sincere apologies. In my last post, I discussed an eScooter that I claimed was the lightest in the market, at 16.5 pounds. A Kickstarter search for scooters turned up one that is only 8.8 lbs.

A new , Chinese firm, by the name of crazy fire tech raised $175K to develop an 8.8 lbs eScooter that fits in your backpack. For their Kickstarter campaign they priced the scooters at $299, a crazy low price given the specs – light weight, battery lasts 5 years, mobile app that monitors routes, power and connects to other fellow scooter riders.

am sorry I missed this Kickstarter campaign. Hope to get my hands on one of these some day soon.  So tell us, would you ride this?

Finding the perfect PUMP

Finding the perfect Personal Urban Mobility Product (PUMP) can be hard, especially if you want to step out of the standard single passenger bike format. Those who don’t like sitting on a bike saddle but want to get around more quickly than by foot, don’t typically have a lot of options to try out different equipment for more enjoyable commutes. We can read about them aplenty on Gizmag but test driving them is often impossible. With this site I hope to make it possible for Boston residents to try out some of these innovative  PTVs that promise happier commutes. Families should be able to test drive a cargo bike and those in the market for an escooter should be able to get their hands on the throttle without having to fork over the grand+ that they cost.

So, if any of the equipment I post about appeals to you, let me know you would be interested in a trial through the poll below. If I get enough yes votes, Happy Commutes will attempt to acquire one for local market trials in exchange for a small fee.

To start us off, one of the items I would like to get my hands on is eMicro’s newest scooter: an electric scooter that weighs only 16.5 pounds. Based on my research, this seems to be the lightest electric scooter to hit the market and the charging time is wicked fast.

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So, tell us, would you try this?