Alt-Wheels Notes #25

VOI: Yet another eScooter company that doesn’t know how to market!

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.

Here is my proposed a solution to moving things along:

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. These 30 days of free lessons should be held before any rental eScooter company is allowed to deploy their fleet to the public at large.

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

New York City & Cycling

Citi Biking through Midtown faster, cheaper than cab: report

With auto speeds in the Midtown core hovering under 5 mph, new data from the city’s Department of Transportation shows the thousands of people per hour who opt to take for-hire vehicles in the area would move a lot faster on two wheels.

Citi Bikers in Midtown travel around 30% faster than their taxi-riding counterparts, according to the bike-share trip data analyzed for the DOT’s annual “Mobility Report,” which was released last week.

The bulky blue bikes are also cheaper — a Citi Bike membership costs $169 for year — with $5 per month options available for certain low income groups — or $3 for a single ride.

The corrupt NYC Department of Transportation is back to talks and probably looking for more palm-greasing: JUMP bikes to remain — for now — as negotiations resume

After JUMP announced late last week that it would be pulling its bright, red bicycles from Staten Island’s North Shore, the company says it has resumed negotiations with the city, and the bikes will remain in place — for now.

“We are talking to the DOT on how to continue service in Staten Island, and in the meantime bikes remain active while we try and find a way forward that works for everyone,” said Harry Hartfield, spokesman for Uber, JUMP’s parent company.

This is a must-read interview: STREETSBLOG INTERVIEW: Sean Avery Loves Saying ‘Fuck You’ to People Blocking Bike Lanes

Sean Avery, the rambunctious former New York Ranger who fashions himself the “poster boy” for bike lanes, tools around the city on one of his electric or fold-up bikes or scooters (he has a stable of them, including the Super 73 above) with the same bad-boy bravado he brought to hockey: The 5-foot-10, 195-pound left wing’s ice-top aggression was so “in your face” that it prompted the National Hockey League to create an eponymous rule, making it illegal for a player to wave his or her stick in front of a goalie.

No helmets, no problem: how the Dutch created a casual biking culture

In 2010, Chris and Melissa Bruntlett sold their cars and began transporting their family of four around Vancouver, BC, by bike. They noticed that bicyclists’ stories were not being told, so they started blogging about their carless lifestyle at the website of what would become their creative agency, Modacity.

Through cycling circles, they heard stories and saw pictures of cycling in Dutch cities, so they went to the Netherlands to check it out, visiting five cities to study cycling infrastructure, talk with local leaders, and share pictures, videos, and articles.

They ended up gathering enough material for a book, which was released in August 2018 from Island Press: Building the Cycling City: The Dutch Blueprint for Urban Vitality. It’s a tour of Dutch bicycling culture that attempts to extract lessons that can be applied to other cities, including, yes, American cities.

Cycling advocate Melodie Bryant is back with another installment of her European study tour: HOW THEY DO IT: Bike Infrastructure

My first day in the city, two Amsterdammers were kind enough to take me to parts of the city which they sensed would address my bike infrastructure obsession: the Centraal Station. The first place they took me was a busy outdoor space along the water, where ferry riders and other pedestrians intersect with bikes turning into a main bike thoroughfare. This place, they specified, was Amsterdam’s “Shared Space” (in what I later realized was one of its calmer moments).

If room is made for more cars, what do you get? More cars! Traffic on 405 Fwy Is Worse 5 Years After $1 Billion Widening Project in Sepulveda Pass: Study The Mystery of the Ages is how no one “in charge” sees how this would work for more Alt-Wheels lanes.

Electric Scooters

Mets pitcher Noah Syndergaard whizzes through NYC traffic on Bird electric scooter

Star Mets pitcher Noah Syndergaard took the future of the franchise into his hands Thursday — whizzing through the streets of Manhattan on a Bird electric scooter with just his ponytail for head protection.

No helmet. Not good.

His two-wheeled choice of transport was a gift from fellow Met Robinson Cano who surprised teammates with the customized electric scooters in August.

Sports fans are usually car owners. Will this sighting make them think that eScooters aren’t just for bizarro Tech Bros? Will it make them wonder about getting one? And, having gotten one, will they try it for an actual commute instead of using their car? Let’s hope!


Bolt One:

Bolt Chariot:

The problem here is that they’re indistinguishable in looks from the rental eScooters. This could cause some confusion. Imagine someone wanting to “rent” your own paid-for personal Bolt!

Germany’s VOI rental eScooters creates one of the worst videos I have ever seen:


There is some kind of real brain damage going on there, from concept, to video, all the way up the chain to “Great! We’ll go with that! Publish it!” What is it with people involved with eScooters? Why do they all fail in marketing? Here’s your 101: Your YouTube Video Is The Most Important Day Of Your Life.

Lime rental eScooters knows how to do it, even on Twitter (video at tweet):

Electric Skateboards

Pavel Garmas is a well-known DIYer. Here he puts his father on the most powerful DIY electric skateboard he’s built. Can his father learn to ride it?


From the YouTube Comments (boldfaced emphasis added by me):

Your dad did great! I can feel with him. I’m 61 and I build my own electric longboard 2 month ago. I have never stood on a skateboard before, but it’s never too late. I love to ride my electric longboard.


Very cool video! I learned later in life as well (age 50).


My 82 year old customer (gardening) steals my onewheel if I don’t hide it proply.)

People think these things are toys. They are not. They are serious electric transportation devices that are a valid alternative to using a car — and to using a bike. Not everyone can pedal and not everyone wants to pedal. And a car isn’t necessary to get everywhere.

Expert rider Jermaine Ellis is taking a break (probably brief) from traveling the world. He is back in San Francisco and delivering Uber Eats and Caviar on his Boosted electric skateboard. He hasn’t done this in months and months and months and I’ve longed for a new video like this one. His videos always have great views of the city and are hair-raising for anyone who has never tried moving in traffic the way he does. Also note that he can squeeze in places no bicycle can! Also note that no car beeps him!

Caviar deliveries in San Francisco. day in my life. getting around the city.

Meanwhile, in Switzerland, it’s illegal. While shooting a shakedown video of a new board he designed, Fabian is pulled over by The Man:

That happens about 7 minutes in. The encounter is not in the video but he does mention the police are authorized to confiscate any electric skateboard:

Got Stopped by the Police for Electric Skateboarding..

And a YouTube Comment tells of a similar legal situation in Bike Heaven, aka The Netherlands:

Same in The Netherlands… illegal, finds of 3500,- euro and confiscation of board

So they’re really not a model for the future over there, are they? There’s a petition to change that: Legaliseer personal light electric vehicles.

Electric Unicycles

In this installment, learning to ride an electric unicycle!

For people too impatient to sit through videos, here’s the text version of how to learn:

Stage 1 – is learning to step on while leaning against a wall or holding on to something for support, could be in a doorway. While in place roll back and forth about 50 times.

Stage 2 – is moving along the wall or perhaps a fence for support and getting used to moving forward and partially balancing. Move back and forth against the wall maybe 50 times. After a while of this go on to the next stage.

Stage 3 – rolling along without aid of a wall or fence. For example hang onto a lamp post and with a very slight push, ride to the next lamp post. When you can ride straight for a very long distance that is the end of stage 3. It means that you can now ride without aid.

Stage 4 – is learning how to turn. There are many further advanced levels to turning, but when you can ride in an oval and can complete a lap you are ready to graduate from beginner level. As bonus you can start riding terrains like the sometimes surprising challenges of the sidewalk. You should not cross the street yet though as that would be Intermediate level.

Stage 5 – Intermediate level begins with learning how to stop and start, get on and get off on your own without having to lean on anything. This is absolutely essential for safety. Others will try to teach you this at beginner level which is fine, but if you can’t ride yet what will you do if you are able to successfully step on? Anyway this stage can be started at any time but I put it here as essential before moving on.

Stage ?? – insert a few more stages here, practice a lot, go on riding adventures, learn how to ride really slowly.

After a while you will want to do self-study and you will know on your own that you are leaving Intermediate level. Perhaps after you’ve mastered flatland riding, cornering, inclines and declines you may want to try more advanced stuff – such as hopping and dropping off curbs, backward riding or one foot riding.

All of that is from the Description of this video:

California Airwheel Duo – First Day Training Part 5

You absolutely do not have to be young and vibrant to learn to ride:

First time on a Electric Unicycle

Claudias day 2 on a Electric Unicycle

If Claudia can do it, so can you.

3 Tips to INSTANTLY become a BETTER rider – Electric Unicycle Edition!!

And now, some EUC safety …

Unicycle Mten3 crash 35kph ish+-

Hello everyone, it seems i didnt hear the beeps well plus I leaned too much a too fast, which resolved a crash.

He has outgrown that wheel due to his love of speed and has ordered a larger one. That video also points out a possible shortcoming of wearing a full-face helmet: Audible EUC warnings might not be heard, as was the case in his crash.

Speed versus range. Safety versus speed. As veteran rider and reviewer Duf explains how EUC makers Gotway and King Song address these conflicts differently:

KingSong Speed Limiting – The 16X 1.06 firmware outrage!!


Future Motion creates a new backpack accessory:

Onewheel Backpack Overview + Giveaway!

Mario Contino is a NYC schoolteacher who uses a Onewheel for his work commute (see here and here). In this video, he rides his new Onewheel Pint to carry out an errand:

Onewheel Pint | UPS Store Run

This YouTube Comment puts the trip in perspective:

That is impressive. You traveled less than four miles and made the trip in 15 minutes in Queens. Plus, you took a detour off Main Street and Union Turnpike. No way I can do the same trip in my car in 15 minutes.

Boldfaced emphasis added by me.

Let’s not forget that he’d also have to find parking for his car too!

Last Kick

This is how insane we’ve become in accommodating motor vehicles:

Route 50 and Route 291 Simulation

Look at all the wasted land. And the absurdity of crosswalks! Anyone who can look at that and thinks it’s normalor should be normal — needs to open their eyes.


Liebig’s law of the minimum

Liebig law of the minimum, often simply called Liebig’s law or the law of the minimum, is a principle developed in agricultural science by Carl Sprengel (1828) and later popularized by Justus von Liebig. It states that growth is dictated not by total resources available, but by the scarcest resource (limiting factor). The law has also been applied to biological populations and ecosystem models for factors such as sunlight or mineral nutrients.


Dobenecks used the image of a barrel—often called “Liebig’s barrel”—to explain Liebig’s law. Just as the capacity of a barrel with staves of unequal length is limited by the shortest stave, so a plant’s growth is limited by the nutrient in shortest supply.

Liebig’s law explains why riding bikes — and other Alt-Wheels — is being limited. There are two parts:

1) Poor lane infrastructure (“magic paint”) and

2) Lack of pervasive secure storage (such as Oonee pods)

The first makes it too dangerous for most people to even think about not using their cars or bypassing failing mass transit. The second creates the question “What do I do with it [bike, eBike, eSkateboard, eScooter, eUnicycle, Onewheel] when I’ve arrived?” without providing any answer.

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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