By Jeffrey Will, Experience Director, InMotion USA
We've Come A Long Way
2018 was an important year in our industry. One big reason is because the rise of so many dockless bike-share and scooter-share programs like Bird, Lime, and Jump has proven (seemingly overnight) that there is a huge demand for personal and portable transportation in congested urban areas.
There has also been a lot of controversy around the methods some companies have used to roll out their programs raising concerns about public safety and accessibility. Despite these concerns, the flood of varying options are opening so many eyes to a new, more efficient way of life. Conversations among city officials and rideshare companies are not debating whether or not these new micromobility solutions should exist, but how they should exist. It's just a matter of implementation.
Video Courtesy of Micromobility Conference
Micromobility Conference - San Francisco, CA
With so much momentum, ridership rates, and concerns about how to move the industry forward, the first Micromobility Conference was formed on January 31st 2019 in San Francisco, CA. So, of course, we had to be there!
New riders dipping their toes into the world of portable transportation tend to gravitate towards something with no / low learning curve, and that's exactly why bikes and kick scooters are dominating the rental options right now. This is an important first step for many, which is why we offer such options in our lineup like P2 Mini E-Bike and Scooterboard. But we also have our eyes fixed on the overall transformative potential of something even more capable.
Making A Case For The Electric Unicycle
Anyone who knows me personally understands exactly how much electric unicycles have completely changed the way I live my daily life with an unprecedented level of convenience and freedom that also happens to allow me to live within a much smaller carbon footprint. It's like suddenly learning you've gained a newfound superpower. I'm definitely not alone, as many of our customers have similarly powerful stories.
This conference was chock full of key players from all angles: producers (like us), service providers, local government reps, and venture capital. We were thrilled to have the opportunity to give an on stage presentation, and Rose Wang (our CEO) did so expertly while comfortably mounted on our Hovershoes X1.
"This invention pushes us in the direction of transhumanism. Which theorizes that with the help of technology, the human race can evolve beyond our current physical limitations. Why do we consider this an evolution? Instead of the human adapting to fit the machine, our device is designed to embellish upon the natural human form."
There was no denying we simply had to get a unicycle on stage, and I was happy to roll up on a shiny new V10F. Thankfully, my skull fits into the "official" V10 helmet that you may recognize from the product launch video we made last year.
Rose covered a lot really interesting topics that really drive home the points that make our community so passionate (and quite frankly, obsessed) about our lifestyle. She made a particularly interesting connection to transhumanism, which I think most riders would find personally relatable. Perhaps the most powerful aspect of the electric unicycle is the fact that your body is the controller, so it feels completely naturally despite all the ones and zeros doing their magic to keep the machine stable and flat. There aren't many instances in modern technology that make someone feel as purely human and yet highly connected.
Beyond the more philosophical side of the unicycle, Rose also took this opportunity to explain how well this particular device fits into, and leads the way, towards all of the goals of micromobility. No other device can claim the same level of portability and performance. In this sense, we were truly giving the audience a glimpse into the future of personal transportation that we already enjoy today!
Safety In Numbers
Of course this conference had a lot more to offer than our presentation. Some inspiring and sobering facts really help to drive home the points that:
- Micromobility is the future, not just a fad.
- We have a long way to go here in the US because most of our urban infrastructure is based around the automobile instead of pedestrian or bicycle travel.
Statistics clearly show that, in terms of bicycle travel, the higher the ridership, the less are killed while riding. So the good news to glean from this grim statistic is that it could actually get safer for riders the more adoption rates continue to accelerate.
Be Your Local Advocate!
Do you want to see better and safer options in your area? Using a bike, scooter, board, or unicycle to get around town shouldn't be a harrowing experience, and there is no reason urban areas shouldn't want to provide a safe space for personal portable vehicles to travel. Sidewalks should prioritize pedestrian travel, and smaller personal vehicles shouldn't have to compete for space with much larger, faster automobiles in the same lane. The answer is an adequate network of bike lanes that are inclusive to the next generation of electric mobility. Let's call them rolling lanes.
Meaningful change happens from the ground up, so make your voice heard. Get involved in your community meetings and share your story.