Alt-Wheels Notes #23


The Invasion of the Folding Mini eScooters begins!

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.

In Alt-Wheels Notes #22, I proposed a solution to moving things along:

Let me solve this damn impasse for our hand-wringing Governor. Add to the legalization this provision: In every locality that an eScooter rental company enters, they must hold thirty days of free lessons to people in a variety of locations. A full damn month of teaching people how to ride and the local laws about riding (because each municipality can set their own conditions) should increase the safety factor.

Now add it, get the Assembly and Senate to agree, and sign the damn bills!

I want to add another condition that might also help increase the chances of passage. Those 30 days of free lessons should be held before any rental eScooter company is allowed to deploy their fleet to the public at large.

New York City & Cycling

E-bike rider is critically hurt after crashing into elderly pedestrian in Central Park

A man riding an e-bike was critically injured after he crashed into an elderly pedestrian in Central Park on Monday afternoon.

Three other bike crashes were reported Monday within feet of the e-bike crash, on the East Drive near E. 72nd St., in the area of the Loeb Boathouse.

The e-bike rider, 43, struck a 77-year-old man at about 3:20 p.m. in a crosswalk near Terrace Drive, the road that runs through the park linking E. and W. 72nd Sts., cops and witnesses said.

“Very serious accident. Maybe head problem,” said Sheikh Rahman, who runs a snack cart nearby and saw the crash.

“The old man was crossing, and the bike went straight,” Rahman said. The bicyclist was spread out in the road, and looked badly injured, he said.

And:

As police investigated the crash, cops and medics responded to three more bicycle accidents within 100 feet of the collision. In one of those incidents, two bicycles crashed into each other, sending one of the riders, a woman, to a nearby hospital.

One cyclist was reading his phone while riding, so that seems to be a collision in the making. The other ones seem inexplicable in such a short time in such proximity.

There Were Just 6 Citi Bikes on the Upper West Side At Rush Hour; ‘Not a Viable Transportation Option’

Citi Bikes were few and far between on Monday morning at 8:37 a.m., as seen in this screenshot from Upper West Sider Joe Gall.

Citi Bike has had this problem before — with bikes disappearing from the neighborhood at rush hour. But it’s been working on “rebalancing” the bike stations, trucking bikes from high-density to low-density areas as needed.

Gall says that Citi Bike has indeed gotten better about rebalancing in recent weeks, but that Monday was a total desert. “Not a viable transportation option if it isn’t reliable,” he wrote on Twitter.

I’m glad CitiBike is too afraid to enter the area where I live. We’re better served by Lime and Jump. Some days, there’s one of those bikes just across the street! CitiBike would never put a dock there (nor could they; no space). Free-range bikes like Lime and Jump are more convenient than CitiBike’s caged ones. And it’s sheer insanity that dockless bikes aren’t allowed in Manhattan. Whose palms are being greased for that monopoly? We’ll find out one day. We always find out. Corruption and sweetheart deals can’t be hidden forever.

Twitter:

Four wheels bad, but three sehr gut. Germans climb aboard cargo bikes

In a fashionable corner of the capital of Germany, Europe’s “car nation”, parents picking up or dropping off their offspring have lined the edge of a popular playground with luxury vehicles. There are summery convertibles, wood-panelled multi-seaters and slim racers – but none of them has four wheels.

Jan Edler, an architect, has picked up his son Laszlo from daycare with a Bullitt, a Danish-built cargo bike with a platform spacious enough to fit the one-year-old and the daily grocery shopping.

The family car, he says, has been gathering rust ever since he invested in the aluminium-framed two-wheeler, partly because cargo bikes manage to evoke the same romantic notions that cars once used to: “I just find it an incredibly liberating experience to get around a city on a cargo bike,” Edel says. “I feel safe among the traffic, and my son has something to look at.”

Boldfaced emphasis added by me.

And this is especially for the people who thought I was hard on Volkswagen (here and here) for their Alt-Wheels efforts:

When Volkswagen tried to muscle in on the booming industry with the launch of its own cargo bike at last year’s fair, the carmaking giant’s offer was met with scathing reviews by the bike community.

Boldfaced emphasis added by me.

Good for the bike people. They can’t be bamboozled like so many cheerleaders in this field can.

Twitter (video at link):

Those kind of vehicles are used in England too. Here’s a glimpse of one from an episode of Britain’s Parking Hell:

I don’t understand why New York City doesn’t have this. With all the vehicles that block bike lanes and park on sidewalks, the city could be pulling in millions of dollars per year — which could be earmarked for more bike lanes! John Maier on Twitter alerted me to this: License plate readers on NYPD patrol vehicles making it easier to nab car thieves. Patrol cars do traffic enforcement only when needed (such as the ongoing ticket quotas). The traffic enforcement division needs it own dedicated fleet.

Electric Scooters

Ex-EPA, Climate Czar Browner Shifts to Scooter Sustainability

Browner, the longest-serving Environmental Protection Agency chief in history and more recently President Barack Obama’s climate czar, now spends a good chunk of her time advising scooter-share company Lime on how to shrink its carbon footprint.

“Micro mobility is one of the important pieces of how we combat climate change,” Browner told Bloomberg Environment. “It’s about getting people out of cars and thinking about how we manage our cities and communities.”

Since coming on board in December 2018 as an adviser, Browner helped Lime craft a plan for using 100% renewable energy to charge its global fleet of scooters and electric bikes, mostly by buying renewable energy certificates, said Andrew Savage, the company’s vice president of sustainability.

The company has now hit that goal, even for the “juicers” who pick up scooters, charge them at home, and return them to the street, according to Savage. To date, Lime has bought more than 3,600 megawatt-hours of wind, solar, and small-scale hydro energy, he said.

This article is basically Lime’s refutation of that study mentioned in Alt-Wheels Notes #16 that concluded eScooters were not environmentally-friendly.

Hyundai/Kia is again promoting a folding mini eScooter they showed several years ago that went nowhere:

Last mile mobility for the future, Hyundai·Kia ‘Vehicle-mounted electric scooter’ revealed

Could it be its time has come? Ordinarily, I would dismiss it out of hand but there’s an Indiegogo campaign for another tri-folding mini eScooter:

The First E-Scooter That Fits In A Backpack | MiniFalcon

Here’s the original Chinese-language video:

第一款可收進背包的電動滑板車 – MiniFalcon E-Scooter

That video seems to mention ELOS, which is a kick skateboard maker. I don’t know why.

As for the eScooter itself, I would take all of its claims of top speed and range with a huge grain of salt. Its weight of 17.8 pounds is credible. What no one is paying attention to is that its low price means it will contain cheap and nasty fire-hazard Chinese batteries (hello, hoverboards!). Let’s hope that the pack inside the deck is a standard configuration and buyers can swap it out for one made with Samsung or LG batteries.

For both mini eScooters, there’s going to be lateral stability challenges balancing on those two small wheels.

A bit of history is in order. Micro created the modern kick scooter. They moved into eScooters and had one of the first lightweight ones, the eMicro One. Unfortunately, they made some puzzling decisions in designing it, which I’ve covered previously here. Even worse, rather than correct the design, they discontinued it altogether!

Here’s a promo video for it. This was posted in 2016. 2016 — before there were any rental eScooters. And in it, the Micro executive foresees rental eScooters!

emicro one

With their superior design and quality control, Micro should produce the eMicro Two.

Electric Skateboards

JayKay Trucks, which announced shipping their first complete board in Alt-Wheels Notes #15, makes some recent news in a video by veteran skateboarder Fabian:

INSANE GLAS Electric Skateboard – JayKay Electric Trucks

JayKay is unique in the field of electric skateboards in that everything is built into the truck. There’s no separate enclosures for batteries and electric speed controller (ESC). An electric skateboard can look like a regular kick skateboard.

Metroboard, known for their electric skateboards with oomph, enter the muscular board market:

All Terrain + Street Electric Skateboard – MetroboardX

It ranges in price from US$2,374 to US$2,499, depending on wheel choice. This is a lower price than many muscular boards, such as those from Lacroix, Kaly, and Bajaboard.

Here’s veteran reviewer and tester Jay Boston with a Lacroix model:

LACROIX NAZARE FIRST RIDE & REVIEW | ELECTRIC SKATEBOARD DREAM

Large muscular electric skateboards will woo those who regard smaller boards with fear.

Students displaced after battery-operated skateboard starts fire at UC dorm

At post time, it’s unknown what brand of electric skateboard. I wouldn’t be surprised if it was a DIY or crowdfunded one.

Electric Unicycles

This is so good: First 100 miles by Redditor nevetscx1:

I bought an euc a couple weeks ago. My overall goal was to find a way to get from my work to my wife’s work. It is about 11 miles in distance and most of the ride is in neighborhoods or has a bike lane. I looked at a bunch of options and an euc seemed like it would be the best fit. Since I’m a heavier guy and weigh 240lbs, I bought a v10f. It says it would hold me and had enough range that I wasn’t too worried about 11 miles.

After the first day of riding I realized a few things. My worries about range were hilariously off base. I knew that it says 25-30 miles but I figured that’s for the skinny guys. No way could a fat guy like me get that range. So I bought one with twice the range limit for what I needed. Well I found out that after 11 miles ride I still had more than 75% battery. Even after a 22 mile ride I still had plenty of battery. Needless to say I’m extremely impressed.

Second thing I realized is this thing is so smooth to ride. I had ridden an euc on a bike trail before but the trail was smooth. I figured riding on the road might give me a little more trouble. However after the first day I realized I could bump up the speed limit because 15 mph on the street seems easy and smooth.

The last thing I realized is that I’m weird. First day I took this to work everyone thought it was cool but also that I was just a little strange. I live in Oklahoma and no one around here has seen anything like it. People have asked me a million questions about it and always go back to “why didn’t you just buy a car?”. No one can understand that it can work perfectly as a short commuter vehicle.

So far I’ve had this for about two weeks. I’ve put 100 miles on it already. I plan to put about 50 miles a week on it. I’m already loving riding and will probably like it even more as it cools down. The fact that I get to slow down and actually look at the things I’m driving by. The fact that I’m outside enjoying the weather and not sitting inside a car or bus is just great.

Out of all the things I looked at buying. I’m very happy I ended up with a EUC.

Boldfaced emphasis added by me.

Moreso than an electric skateboard or an electric scooter, riding an EUC is like walking with motors. It has less length and its built-in handle makes it easy to stop and wheel along on a sidewalk. It takes up less space than a pedal or electric bike. People have no conception of the freedom it offers until they experience it. Of all Alt-Wheels, it’s the most flexible.

The King Song 16X is getting a lot of attention on YouTube. Here’s just one video that is significant for mentioning the Alt-Wheels path network in Singapore:

Kingsong 16X Preview and Initial Impressions (Vlog)

Singapore: Park Connector Network

Here comes the future. Mail delivery done on an EUC:

A Postman and His INMOTION EUC | CNN Türk

Last Kick

Study identifies main culprit behind lithium metal battery failure

Lithium metal batteries, which have anodes made of lithium metal, are an essential part of the next generation of battery technologies. They promise twice the energy density of today’s lithium-ion batteries (which usually have anodes made of graphite), so they could last longer and weigh less. This could potentially double the range of electric vehicles.

Lighter and higher-capacity batteries would be a welcome revolution. Being able to subtract even a third from battery weight would be very significant.

Dismount

The OECD’s International Transport Forum released an interesting report: Regulating App-Based Mobility Services.

The Executive Summary doesn’t do the full report justice. There’s some juicy details in it. The PDF is available at the above link.

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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