Last Mile Toys - Scooters, Longboards, and more

I did it. Two weeks ago, I bought an electric longboard. This thing is most definitely not a toy. 15 km range, 25 km/h top speed, and at 7 kg, it is light enough to bring with me everywhere. Most importantly, it is small enough to store in the overhead compartment on the train. No folding necessary. 

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This new "toy" does not diminish my love for cycling. I have just found a better tool for the job. Just like how pickup trucks are most definitely an oversized tool for commuting to work, my bike now seems like an oversized tool for getting to the train station. Or to work. And often even to the grocery store. 

For last-mile transportation, this new toy has replaced almost all of my cycling trips. Mainly, I now feel that finding parking and locking up my bike now seems an unnecessary hassle. A few example of where I have cycled in the past two weeks: 1) going to IKEA with my bike and cargo trailer 2) when my board is charging, which is 3 hours from empty. 3) rain because no fenders! I'll solve that soon with a 3D printer. 

 Pop it overhead on the train - even charge the battery on your way! 

Pop it overhead on the train - even charge the battery on your way! 

I have written about how bikes are key to getting people to and from the train station and Roland Kager, Lucas Harms, Marco te Brömmelstroet, and others have written about how crucial station access by bicycle has been crucial to the development of the Dutch railway system. So far, this has seemed scalable, but the Netherlands seems to be pushing the limits of the bike-train model. Even the enormous new bicycle parking facility at Utrecht Central Station, with room for 12 500, bicycles could fill up in the near future. 

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When half of train passengers access train stations by cycling, as is the case in the Netherlands, it is also clearly not feasible to have everyone to bring their bikes on the train with them - there would be no room to sit! Some choose to use folding bikes, but they are not as comfortable as a normal bike, are a hassle to lug up stairs, and are a bit too bulky for rush-hour trains. 

Bike-share at your destination solves the problem of having to bring your bike on the train, but my board saves me the entire process of finding and unlocking a bicycle. Yes, it is a bit dangerous. Yes, not everyone wants to, or is physically able to, ride an electric longboard. The future brings all forms of electrified personal transportation. 

Whether it is an e-bike, an electric scooter, a hoverboard, or even an electric longboard, I now see these things as more than toys. They are transportation tools. What does this mean for our cities? 


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