Micro-Mobility for Micro-Distance Transport Needs

Kickboard scooter at Pasta&VinegarIn my work life I need to keep up with whole lot of online community, user experience, and assorted other tech blogs. My bike blog reading (and posting) has taken a real hit. So maybe you can understand why I get pretty excited when I find tech folks turning their brain juice on issues I care about—in this case, car-free transportation.

It seems everyone these days is talking about microformats and microfinance (unfortunately, microbrews don’t get the attention they used to), but here’s a buzz term I can really get behind: Micro-mobility. It’s the idea that a car (careful, this might blow your mind) isn’t the appropriate vehicle for many transportation tasks, especially when you are talking about micro-distances.

From Pasta&Vinegar:

“When it comes to mobility, people are in general mesmerized by Velib or Zipcar lately but there are there sorts of devices that I find very intriguing: aluminium scooters or K-2 Kickboard Scooter. Some people would argue that this for start-up pricks (because real value is in pure P&P skateboarding gear) or that it is childish and useless but I don’t think so. I don’t have any scooters but what I find interesting here is the notion of “micro-mobility” and the balance of cost…”

I can relate. Even the Xtracycle can be too much transportation tool. For example, if I want to run somewhere close to my office in the middle of the day, I think hard about whether the bike is worth the effort (getting it from the parking garage, unlocking, riding, looking for a bike rack, locking, the errand itself, unlocking and back again), or if I should just suck it up and make do with a long walk. A little micro transport device, kept in my unused file drawer could be just the ticket.

I don’t expect many of my peers to be jumping on the kick-board wagon any time soon. They think I’m a freak for riding my bike, for crying out loud. But what about the generation of kids who grew up with razor scooters and skateboards as a normal thing? I can imagine a world, partially assisted by $300/barrel oil, dense urban planning, and a less car-dependent infrastructure, where micro-mobility devices aren’t merely a gimmick, but instead are a serious transportation option.


5 responses to “Micro-Mobility for Micro-Distance Transport Needs

  1. You use bike racks with the X? I always feel like a rack hog if I do that; I’d rather park next to the rack and leave the space for folks with the smaller, more easily carried off bikes.Also, for many years I’ve regarded parking meters as nature’s bike racks, and almost ubiquitous downtown. I know what you mean about the overkill, though – I’ve occasionally thought about carrying a folder on the back as a spare.

  2. You use a bike rack with the X? I always feel like a rack hog if I do that. I prefer to park separately, and leave the rack for folks with smaller bikes that are easier to carry off. Also, for many years I have regarded parking meters as nature’s bike racks, nearyl ubiquitous downtown. I guess I know what you mean about the overkill, even though that’s pretty much a way of life for me. I have actually considered carrying a folder on the back as a spare. Have you seen Derek Perason’s bikes? http://tinyurl.com/5lwpb2 Of course, not all of us can board. Rollerblades? Heelies?

  3. Hey Val, thanks for stopping by. I know what you mean about being a rack hog. I try to be aware. Sometimes, especially if I have a load, I need the rack for support (hmmm…. maybe I need to get my hands on one of those stands), and I make an effort to use the outside edge of the rack.

    Back in the day I found parking meters very useful, but they are all but extinct in my parts of the city, thanks to those solar/electronic parking kiosks. In a few places the city has replaced the meter top with one of those bike “loops” but they aren’t as prevalent as I’d like.

    Derek’s bikes are super cool (no doubt made even cooler by his amazing photos), but unfortunately me and skateboards don’t get along. I like to think it’s because I’m too tall, but more likely it’s because I’m a klutz.

    Roller blades, hmmm…. I have some of those…. hmmm….

  4. I know it’s been a long wait, but the stands are truly on the way…no kidding…I’ll be letting you know soon.

  5. Just park it guys. Anywhere you want! I have found the more people that see the “X”, actually see the small space incovenience as an elightening moment.

    You can almost see the thoughts’ ticking throught thier minds – “Can I go car free with something like that”

    Keep up the good work. Love reading your stuff

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