Tag Archives: urban planning

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.