#TechThursday – Curing Congestion

  Lindsey Schutters


 12 Mar, 2020

Last Mile Transport Solutions Easing Congestion

We need to change the way we think about last mile transport solutions, but we’re getting lazy about it says Lindsey Schutters.

If you hang out in cities often you’ve probably noticed that navigating the unnatural concrete jungle is about as intuitive as the three shells from Demolition Man that we’ll end up using when all the toilet paper is gone in Coronavirus panic. If you don’t learn the correct hand signals, you’ll inevitably catch the wrong taxi. You will always underestimate the walking distance to your intended inner-city destination and suffer the indignity of paper toweling your face dry before going into the career-defining interview room.

Electric rideables were supposed to be the obvious answer, but between London’s draconian laws that keep scooters off pavements and the sheer weight of an e-bike, it hasn’t really taken off. And then there came the recent news that Boosted, the preferred brand of electric skateboards for generation vlog, just retrenched a significant portion of its workforce.

That the full might of YouTube and social media influencer marketing couldn’t keep this company immune to the ill-effects of the Trump trade war is quite telling. Maybe internet marketing isn’t enough to offset the costs of developing innovative hardware. Or, maybe, in a world where traveling five kilometres by Uber costs about the same as a the fancy coffee you were going to have with your lunch, there are too many convenient options that keep you isolated in that privilege bubble.

Not Lindsey Schutters on an eScooter

My bet is that more than half of my friends have never ridden a skateboard in their lives and don’t see the same value that I do in looking like a circus bear from yesteryear on a tiny fold-up bicycle. As the tax for driving in our cities balloons – expensive parking, time lost in traffic, and actual congestion charges in more ruthless economies – last mile solutions should grow to meet the park-at-the-edge crowd.

Privilege bubbles float better in the open air of the greatly altered outdoors on bikes or boards. My prediction is that novel virus outbreaks will snap our craving for communal traveling and encourage more creative solutions to get from point A to B with as little human interaction as possible. But with consumer demand for these new mobility solutions dwindling under the weight of our fear of getting our hearts racing, there may not be suitable hardware for our road traffic renaissance.

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