Annie Rudwick from Portland, Oregon, is preparing to return home from work. Also, she is transporting her three children from daycare. Such a feat would typically require a minivan-like vehicle. However, Annie has a better solution. Namely, she is getting her 1-, 3-, and 5-year-old girls on the electric cargo bicycle.
Cycling while pulling three kids would normally be rather tiresome. However, the e-boost enables Annie to transport her one-hundred-pound children easily. Besides, the e-bike allows her to avoid the rush hour bottleneck and make her journey of four miles much quicker.
Annie Rudwick, who works at OHSU’s School of Dentistry at the position of the finance and administration associate dean, is not quite a fan of regular cycling as it requires showering afterward. The e-bike is a true means of transport for her as she needn’t exercise that much.
New Vehicles on Bike Lanes
Annie’s twelve-foot-long e-bike accompanied by a trailer is not the only innovative vehicle that has recently appeared on bike lanes. It is just one part of the brand-new transportation trend that experts refer to as micromobility. The basic idea is that the latest technology, involving smart devices and stronger batteries, is making a huge leap via tiny but smart vehicles fitting overcrowded streets in cities.
The executive of The Street Trust, Jillian Detweiler, explains that more and more vehicles are frequenting such lanes — bikes, e-bikes, and e-scooters. The trend has risen to such an extent that e-scooter rentals are emerging in various cities across the globe. Specifically, Portland City streets boast as many as 2,600.
Evolution of E-Scooters
The Portland Bureau of Transportation director, Chris Warner, believes that people are searching for distinctive methods to circulate. Their popularity indicates that riders consider them as an entertaining and economical way of making short journeys. What’s more, they have been evolving over time.
Two e-scooter companies have come up with vehicles that have seats and bigger wheels. Warner himself tried one out, claiming that those seated were a bit more stable. He noted that they might appeal to people who were intimidated by standing on e-scooters.
The international consulting company Deloitte reports that the e-scooter industry’s rapid expansion, which advanced quicker than transportation firms such as Uber, has increased the interest of the market for micromobility.
A Lot of Potential
The Deloitte report alleges that those vehicles can link people to urban transit in a better way. Additionally, they can reduce dependence on cars and exploit the available space by fitting the vehicle. Above all, the emission of greenhouse gases would be significantly lowered.
For the time being, no one is aware of how far this new trend will go. For instance, China has many low-speed e-cars whose size approximately equals to a golf-cart size. Detweiler from the Street Trust mentions that something similar is likely to emerge in Portland someday. As she explains, they want to promote the perfect method for the journey people make.
Detweiler further recounts that her journey to work could easily be taken on a bike. But a small two-seat e-car having the cargo deck would be perfect for making the journey to a local store, where she would get a discount of 20% on a wine case.
A Blessing or a Curse?
A former commissioner for transportation from NYC, Sam Schwartz, has long demanded the reduction of single-occupancy cars in overcrowded cities. His latest book “No One at the Wheel: Driverless Cars and the Road of the Future,” argues that the arrival of self-driven vehicles might be either a blessing or a curse for micromobility. Namely, Schwarz believes it is impossible to have a high number of vehicles developing various speeds.
What he wants in the city streets is the regulation of autonomous vehicles to incite the use of slow self-driven vehicles. But he wouldn’t like the presence of huge self-driven vehicles occupied by only one person dashing through the streets, which would eventually push others off. Schwartz explains that according to the fact that future tech-heavy car producers will become the most dominant in the world, that scenario is likely to unfold.
Pros and Cons
The expansion of e-scooters, however, frustrates numerous people. Namely, they grumble about riders’ tendencies to ride e-scooters on sidewalks or to park them so that they obstruct both pedestrians and other vehicles. Besides, riders cycling on conventional bicycles often struggle with various vehicles moving on a lane at different speeds or ways.
The Washington County Bicycle Transportation Coalition executive and writer on bicycles, Joe Kurmaskie, stated that there were advantages and disadvantages to the growing variety in the lanes. Though it might not be exactly the disadvantage, cyclists must undoubtedly learn to share the restricted space on the lanes.
The Champion of Micromobility
On the other hand, the director of Portland transportation, Chris Warner, claims that Portland City possesses more than enough capacities regarding its bike lanes. Also, it has excellent prospects to be among the leaders of micromobility.
Portland City possesses about 400 miles of bicycle routes. What’s more, the cycle lane network is to be expanded throughout next year to involve e-bikes as well. That might be quite attractive for prospective riders, who would like to enjoy the comfort of an electric bicycle but would rather not pay $1,500–$4,000 per one.
Warner added that they were open and ready to support innovations. Plus, they are eager to discover new safe and sustainable ways of transport.
A Different Glimpse at the City
Annie Rudwick explains that her commute by an e-bike offers her a different view of the city. She deems that the micromobility system is excellent. Almost all of her ride is in off-street or bike lanes. She even possesses complimentary valet parking at the tramp base up to OHSU so she needn’t lock and protect her bicycle. What’s more, the University gives her a bonus of $1.50 per day for riding to work.
The best part about an e-bike is that it saves a lot of money as there is no need to pay parking fees, which amount to a minimum of $13 per day. Allan Rudwick, Annie’s husband, claims that it is possible to save a substantial sum of money. Allan has long been enthusiastic about the capacities of e-bikes. Moreover, he is thrilled to see the direction to which the micromobility revolution is heading.
Annie Rudwich got so used to riding her e-bike that driving is now so bothersome for her. However, her little daughters occasionally grumble about riding during rainy days.