Alt-Wheels Notes #16

1901: E.P. Ingersoll of The Horseless Age railing against cheap. The same situation prevails today, over one hundred years later, in the market for Alt-Wheels. Remember this: When you buy cheap, you wind up buying twice.

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 (and sometimes elsewhere) Cycling

Cops looking for hit-and-run bicyclist who fatally struck pedestrian in Chelsea

A Chelsea man has died after a hit-and-run bicyclist ran him down a week ago less than a block away from his home, police said Wednesday.

Pedestrians come first. Always. They are the top of the Travel Pyramid. Have a backbone and stay at the scene of a collision.

Turning the tide on bicyclist deaths

The only way to get people out of cars is to make other options preferable to getting behind the wheel. While we wait for the subway and bus fixes from the state-run MTA, there’s still quite a bit that the city can do on its streets to improve them for everyone.

While some might consider them a nuisance, well-regulated scooters and e-bikes have real potential to serve communities far removed from public transit as a first-mile, last-mile solution. In fact, we’re seeing this just across the river in Hoboken. New York only needs Cuomo’s signature to get moving.

And, especially, this:

Lastly, the city should change its requirement that the “level of service” for drivers be maintained when reconfiguring streets. Currently, when DOT installs bike lanes or enhances streets, it tries to avoid impacting drivers’ experience on roads. Eliminating this practice would send a clear message that city policy will actually align with de Blasio’s rhetoric on sustainability.

The DOT needs to switch its mindset — and goals! — from “level of service” to equality of access.

Germany’s Completely Car-Free Bicycle Highway

Germany is building a car-free bicycle highway that will stretch to 62 miles, once completed.

When finished, it will connect 10 German cities, including Duisburg, Bochum, and Hamm, as well as four universities. It has been built to help minimize car pollution and is projected to get 50,000 cars off the road everyday, once completed.

An autobahn for bicycles

The bicycle highway looks like a traditional road, with passing lanes, overpasses, underpasses for crossroads, and even streetlights. The great benefit to riders, however, is that they won’t have to worry about buses, cars and trucks tailgating them or coming up from behind.

California once had something similar, the Cycleway. From a prior post — Bikes Vs. Cars, Plus Why eScooters Matter — this image:

Complexity and Contradiction: MaaS and the Gender-Sensitive Lens

Cities are looking to MaaS [Mobility as a Service] to end car ownership and single-car driving in cities, what this means is that commuters will need to feel safe on the streets in order to catch and use public transport, jump on a bike or scooter or hail a ride. In many instances, women change their public transport travel patterns as a result of harassment and violence. This ranges from avoiding certain stations and bus stops to more dramatic actions like buying a car or catching taxis/Ubers home from work after dark.


Innovators and policy makers seem to believe that men and women have the same mobility realities, yet this research shows the opposite. Women feel most vulnerability on the streets and using public transport. It is unlikely that women who are privileged enough to own a car are likely to give it up if the single-owned car provides a sense of security. And those that cannot afford a car? Well they will opt out of public life altogether – indeed they already are.

Boldfaced emphasis added by me.

Yes. As I wrote Alt-Wheels Notes #4:

“Car culture” is subsumed by the culture. When we have reports of subway cars being turned into shelters by the homeless, fare-evasion no longer being enforced as it was under “broken windows,” and obviously crazy people intimidating mass transit riders, who can blame people for wanting to get to and from some place as safely as they can manage? “Car culture” is just a single domino in a line of dominoes that begins with the culture itself.

GitHub: Documentation of Bike Sharing APIs

Public transport and multimodal routing apps could benefit from showing nearby bikes from bikesharing services. So here’s a list showing the APIs of a few of these platforms.

Electric Scooters

Another rebuttal to that silly paper about how non-eco-friendly eScooters are: By bashing e-scooters, you’re missing the bigger picture

Being environmentally responsible is critical to us at Voi Technology and our entire business is based on materially reducing the number of short car journeys taken in our cities. We will shortly be introducing swappable batteries with longer life-cycles, which will dramatically reduce the number of van journeys, and are about to introduce an electric vehicle for our hunters. We’re also in the process of increasing the recycling and re-use of components in our scooters.

The best rebuttal I’ve seen was actually on Twitter:

Absolutely correct. But I couldn’t give that paper that much thought.

Electric Skateboards

Mellow has a website that lists retailers and events where test rides of the Mellow Drive are available.

Electric Unicycles

The HIGHEST Road in America on a Onewheel and EUC! Vlog

“I could never ride an electric unicycle!” Oh yeah?

6 yr old riding Electric Unicycle Gotway MTen3 first solo ride!

There are plentry of YouTube videos showing how to ride and people teaching themselves to ride. The more you watch, the less intimidating the prospect becomes. Some people surprise themselves and pick it up in a few hours. Others need several days. But they all learn. It’s too bad most people don’t recall their childhood efforts learning to ride a two-wheeled pedal bike. That Gotway mTen3, by the way, is not built or priced for kids. It’s US$1,000 and has a top speed faster than a Onewheel (although with such a small tire, max speed is not recommended by anyone), a longer range than a Onewheel and most eScooters, is just 11 inches in length(!), and its built-in molded handle makes its 20 pounds of weight easier to carry.


HOW MANY MILES? OneWheel PINT Battery Range Test


That was over primarily flat surfaces, speed between 8-11mph, and a rider weight of 158 pounds. For many people who won’t try for the Pint’s max speed of 14mph, that should be adequate for some commutes and many errands.

Another entrant in the garbage bin of Onewheel clones:

Neon Nitro 8 Self Balancing Electric Skateboard at Toy Fair!

I won’t look hard to see that in public. Because it won’t sell.

Last Kick


A reliable and modified version of that is needed. Too many Amazon reviews mention how the remote won’t sync. The modification should be a red octagon to signal Stop, not the exclamation point used.


An Old-School Auto Supplier Is Betting on an Electric Future

The latest sign of a world gone mad for battery-powered cars comes a company few consumers know by name, but whose products millions rely on to move about their daily lives. Automotive industry supplier Continental said Wednesday that it’s cutting its investment in the internal combustion engine, to better focus on the electric powertrain it believes is the future of the car.

Continental is the world’s fourth largest auto supplier, according to a 2018 report from Automotive News, with $35.9 billion in annual sales. […]

Now, Continental is responding with its own shift. The Hanover, Germany-based supplier will stop expanding its business dedicated to making things that only engine-powered vehicles need, like fuel injectors and pumps. It will redirect that capital to components for electric vehicles.

Moving their bet from gasoline cars to electric … um … cars.

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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