Alt-Wheels Notes #13

NYC’s SUV-addicted part-time Mayor gives his forgotten city the Green Wave

What Are Alt-Wheels?

Alternative Wheels. I don’t like the term “micromobility.” In fact, I hate it. It sounds like tiny wheelchairs. The person who coined that marketing term apparently never saw TV ads in American for “mobility devices” — which are basically motorized wheelchairs. Alt-Wheels are these: pedal bikes, kick bikes, handbikes, recumbent bikes, pedal tricycles, electric tricycles, electric bikes, kick skateboards, electric skateboards, kick scooters, electric scooters, electric unicycles, and the Onewheel. In Singapore, anything small and electric is separated from that bunch and they’re called PEVs: Personal Electric Vehicles. (And, by the way, while cyclists look to Denmark, it’s Singapore that’s the world leader in electric Alt-Wheels.) I don’t like using the term “vehicle” because that’s a legal term. And if governments start considering Alt-Wheels as that, we’ll have “rider’s ed,” registration, licensing, and insurance requirements for all of them. And that damn well should not happen until Alt-Wheels have street parity with cars, trucks, motorcycles, buses, and everything else of that ilk, gas or electric.

New York State/City Legislation

The Alt-Wheels bills are still in limbo:

See the Assembly and Senate websites for yourself: Assembly Bill A7431B, Senate Bill S5294A, and Senate Bill S6597.

New York City Cycling

July 25, 2019: New York Daily News: NYC’s bicyclists are terrified: What Mayor de Blasio must do now

Commuting by bike could empower millions. Right now, for the estimated 800,000 New Yorkers who regularly travel on two wheels, it is a terror.

We are witnessing what happens when the population of the city wants to bike, and thanks to an increasing cost of living and a crumbling public transit system often needs to bike, but the city itself does little to prepare the streets for cycling. We’ve seen piecemeal change in recent years, but keeping cars and trucks moving is still the priority.

The de Blasio administration encourages cycling, touts its Vision Zero goal of eliminating all traffic fatalities and serious injuries, but allows cars and trucks to dominate streets like McGuinness Blvd. in Brooklyn, where a 58-year-old cyclist was killed on Tuesday night, and Clove Road on Staten Island, where a 17-year-old cyclist was killed on Tuesday morning.

These crashes are the tragic consequence of what happens when a city purports to welcome cyclists but fails to dedicate protected space for bikes on the vast majority of its streets.

July 27, 2019, New York Post: ‘Bike supremacy’ is ruining the city

Ever since Bloomberg, the line’s been that this all about good government: attracting tech companies (who love the cyclist lifestyle), fighting climate change, etc.

Not so: It’s an ideology, pure and simple — a faith in the moral inferiority of car and truck drivers, and in the moral virtue of cyclists.

That’s certainly how the bike-riders themselves view it: You can’t cross town without suffering cyclists’ contempt not just for motorists and pedestrians, but for anything and anyone who gets in their way.

That ideology has conned too many of the city’s leaders into handing over vast swathes of the city’s precious public space to a tiny minority of citizens — albeit an organized, and economically privileged, minority.

The antediluvian Editorial Board of the Post is right. The “city’s precious public space” should not be turned over to “an … economically privileged … minority.” We should return all the public space to the public — by banning all private vehicle parking. Because those who are “economically privileged” are the ones who can afford those cars.

That Editorial was published two days after the hand-wringing Presidential-wannabe now-part-time Mayor unveiled his latest inadequate scheme. It’s called the Green Wave. Forget all the coverage about it. Cut to the chase by reading the document for yourself [direct PDF link].

And here we are, not even a week since that announcement and we’ve had another cyclist killed: number eighteen!

Going back that ridiculous Post Editorial, there are early indications that those who use rental eBikes are absolutely not “economically privileged”:

Bike sharing isn’t just for rich hipsters – ‘super users’ have lower incomes

Most notably, we found that although bike-share members overall had higher incomes than the Vancouver population, super users (defined as people who make 20 or more bike-share trips per month) tended to have lower incomes as compared to those who used it less often. Super users were two and a half times as likely to be in the lowest income category (with an annual household income below $35,000) as compared to the highest (over $150,000).

This finding highlights that bike sharing may be serving the needs of those with lower incomes better than previously thought, and could provide impetus for programs to expand to neighbourhoods with lower incomes.

The editors of the Post should come to my hood, where CitiBike fears to venture but both Jump and Lime bikes were allowed in and weren’t afraid to enter. Come and tell everyone here they’re “economically privileged.” The Post editors would have to run like hell to preserve their own privileged lives.

Electric Scooters

Someone has put together Xiaomi electric scooter – the missing manual.

A blantantly pro-Socialist article (see credit): Privately Owned Scooter Companies Don’t Have a Future that actually has more thought in it than anything I’ve seen from the “micromobility” grifters:

It may, however, prove that scooters do not work well in a fleet, whether publicly or privately managed, and cities should not hesitate to further restrict the services in favor of ownership if that’s the case. The rising prices of dockless scooter services are already incentivizing regular users to buy their own, as they start at only a few hundred dollars and are more portable than a bicycle.

Ownership should not be seen as a failure. Tech platforms have embraced a rentier business model “where an asset owner charges others to access that asset, just as a landlord charges tenants to rent a home the landlord owns,” and scooter “sharing” is no exception. Encouraging ownership of bikes and scooters for regular users is the preferable outcome, as they’ll last much longer and will always be available to their owner. It doesn’t matter if that doesn’t align with the preferences of Silicon Valley capitalists.

That’s all good but the writer errs in two important respects:

1) eScooters that “start at only a few hundred dollars” are generally garbage.

2) Ignores the fact that eScooters lack secure parking. Locking one up in public is a magnet for vandals and thieves. Even if the eScooter is inexpensive garbage. That’s still someone’s financial loss.

An even more ridiculous post is Commentary: Scooters Another Sign of Big Tech Colonizing Public Spaces.

When in use, scooters generate revenue for Bird, Lime or some other “micro-mobility” company. When not in use, they just sit there, wherever there happens to be: a bike lane, a doorway, a neighbor’s front yard. Citizens have no lawful recourse, leading some to resort to micro-vandalism.

Of course he had to point out — and point to! — vandalism.


Now, as big tech monetizes curbs and doorways and sidewalks, we’re seeing the marginalization of non-motorists who, by choice or necessity, traverse the city on their own power. Scooters at rest and in motion create barriers for parents with strollers, frail elderly pedestrians and especially the disabled. It is perturbing for a jogger or cyclist to come upon an abandoned scooter blocking their path. That this happens regularly to wheelchair users and the visually impaired is unconscionable. Decades of activism and legal battles to secure ADA accommodations in the built environment are being causally brushed aside in the name of enhancing mobility for those who can easily walk.

I can just imagine this guy. He’s the kind who posts to Twitter his outrage over a misplaced eScooter that is “blocking” his path. He’d rather be a crybaby for all to see. Why doesn’t he grow some and just put the eScooter in a better position instead of embarrassing himself by publicly whining? Where I am, bastards kicks over Jump and Lime bikes sometimes. Instead of whining, I just pick them up and set them right. Be a solution instead of compounding a problem all of you damned snowflakes!

Here’s a tour of the E-TWOW eScooter factory (E-TWOW is branded as Uscooters in America and sold as Stryder in some markets):

Electric Skateboards

A recent entrant to the field is Momentum Boards.

Here’s an owner describing his purchase with some riding footage towards the end:

Eventually, electric skateboards will evolve into a form that will woo even car drivers out of their vehicles.

Meanwhile, in the eSk8 world most people have generally seen, Meepo has unveiled a new website, two new boards — Meepo Classic 2 and Meepo AWD [All-Wheel Drive] Pro — and revealed they have now sold over 30,000 boards since their founding.

YouTuber Ronnie Sarmiento was able to try and review the highly-anticipated Meepo Mini 2:

This Electric Skateboard Is TOO FAST! – Meepo Mini 2 ER vs Boosted Mini

No one should be scared by the “too fast.” First, not everyone will push it to max speed. Second, such power is needed to surmount hills such as the ones in San Francisco (and in my hood!).

Last Kick

Someone has sniffed out the New New Next Next Big Big Shiny Shiny Thing:

Because, gee, all those billions of discussion threads about backpacks on places like Reddit — and elsewhere — just don’t count. No. And all those companies that have been producing and selling them? I guess they don’t even exist.


Man on Electric Scooter Hits Pedestrian in Lake View, Is Later Struck by Car: Police

Additional news, elsewhere:

Posted once a day: Transportation Alternatives Daily Bike Forecast by Bike Snob NYC

Has a Morning Links compilation: Biking in LA

Updated many times a day: Streetsblog and Streetsblog NYC

Previously here:

Alt-Wheels Notes category

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