The next small thing in public transport: Fold-up electric scooters
March 16, 2009 With an ever increasing load on the public transport system we need to look for smarter and more environmentally friendly ways of getting from A to B in built up areas. The public bike systems that have been successful in several European cities (Paris, Barcelona, Stockholm and soon London) are one way of achieving this, but the Link scooter system, designed by Anton Grimes of University of New South Wales in Australia, may provide an alternative to bikes that is a little easier for the less energetic. The Link is basically a modular transport solution concept, which allows users to hire an electric lightweight scooter from a hub. When the user has reached their destination, they simply return the scooter to another hub for recharging.
The Link scooter system concept recently submitted to the Australian Design Awards was initially conceptualized to suit the Sydney Australia 2030 plan to reduce cars in the CBD and make the city more pedestrian oriented.
The costs of establishing a user friendly scooter hire system that is accessible throughout the city could be prohibitive. Retrofitting to existing light poles, not only provides a ready made and cost effective solution for mounting the hub they also carry the power for recharging, states Grimes. Both the scooter and hub are made from aluminum for strength and weight reduction and the brushed aluminum finish of the scooter is designed to compliment the existing street furniture. The single pull release mechanism also makes folding out the scooter quicker and easier than an existing razor scooter.
Hire and ease of use
According to Grimes the hiring process is simple - the user just needs to follow the instructions on the soft interface. The layout and foot-control pedal of the scooter also make the device simple and easy use. He says that the mechanical release on the scooter is also easy to follow and is indicated with universal graphics to show their function .
Safety and the environment
Safety was a key consideration for designer with the speed of the scooter being limited to 16kmh, and Grimes suggests that the user be issued with a helmet that they must wear when they register to use the system. Users are then required to comply with existing cycling and road rules. The energy required to move the individual has been reduced by keeping down the size and weight of the vehicle (compared to conventional transport methods). The device also removes direct emissions away from the city and with the addition of environmentally sustainable power generation off-site, the device has the potential to have no net emissions.
Evaluating alternatives to the way we move around our densely populated cities, particularly ones that are environmentally friendly like the Link, makes good sense. We will however leave it to the reader to decide on the pros and cons of riding a light weight electronic scooter in heavy traffic - the infrastructure to support this kind of transport will clearly be a critical factor in its success. The Link may provide a healthy solution for both the user and the environment and aid to reduce congestion in our overcrowded cities. We like the concept and wish the designer good speed (pun intended) with his concept.