Rising gas prices, overcrowded parking, traffic so bad that you can hit a red light twice... these problems seem even more onerous (look it up) when you only want to take on a short errand by yourself. Perhaps, like me, you also like the efficiency and operational economics of electric cars from Tesla, Chevy, or Toyota, but they’re priced out of your budget, you can’t see them being your main vehicle, or you acknowledge that gas is king for long road trips where fast refueling allows you to travel 600 miles or more in a day. Maybe you’ve gotta take your car in for repairs by yourself, but you don’t want to be stuck at the shop for hours? Finally, maybe you take mass transit like a subway or bus, but you miss the first departure because you’re driving around looking for (paid) parking, and then you really have to hurry for that “last mile“ between your last stop and your final destination.
Most people think of personal transportation as car, bike, and walking. “The Last Mile” concept is to find something faster and more comfortable than walking, but more compact and convenient than biking. I’ve seen three main form factors (maybe 4): Skateboards, scooters, and unicycles.
Skateboards are “cool.” Not just for Tony Hawk, they were big especially in the 80’s and 90’s, and Marty McFly used one to get to school and a Hoverboard (from 2015) to save the day when he couldn’t use the Delorian, as well as many other pop culture references. 4 wheels mean stability, but small wheels and no handlebars mean that bumps and and cracks can easily cause a wipeout. That risk is part of what makes them cool, but also they are trivially easy to take on board a bus or to carry indoors. There’s kick skateboards and electric skateboards, like those from Boost Boards or Skatebolt. These come much closer to fulfilling the “Back to the Future“ promise than Segways and what we currently call “hover boards,” can zip along at 10-25 MPH, and range in price from $200-$1000+ dollars. One example of an eBoards “top choices” list: https://www.digitaltrends.com/cool-tech/best-electric-skateboards/
An electric skateboard drop: https://www.massdrop.com/buy/skatebolt-s5-mini-lite-electric-skateboard?utm_source=linkshare&referer=Z2JXCA
Scooters video: https://youtu.be/xmhOzH5BNo4
Scooters are probably the easiest, most efficient “last mile“ options. What they lack in “cool” they make up for in ease of use and control, easily able to weave among pedestrians and potholes while also being more efficient than a skateboard because they only have two wheels. These are still more compact than bikes, and easily will fit on a crowded subway or under your desk, but be much faster than walking. There are adult kick-scooters and electric scooters from companies like Razer, Xootr, and Ecoreco. A sample “best choices” list: https://www.digitaltrends.com/cool-tech/best-electric-scooters/
Lastly, electric unicycles. I’m not even going to consider foot-powered unicycles as a transportation alternative, but electric unicycles or e-wheels are compact, fast, maneuverable, and can almost handle off-road terrain like a bike with their large wheel diameters. If you want to ride crushed gravel or slightly muddy paths, this is the choice. Once the rider starts moving on them, gyroscopes and computers help keep the rider upright, and you can have a tighter turn radius than a skateboard or scooter. Depending on your perspective, they also look the most futuristic or nerdy, but they are definitely the most “out-there” option. They’re more easily stowed than a skateboard or scooter without the need to fold them up. They also offer fairly high performance for the price, with 18 mile ranges at 12 mph fairly easy to find at $400 or less, but there are faster models and higher priced ones as well, some offering a telescopic seat to really complete the unicycle look. Notable brands include Ninebot, InMotion, and Airwheel. Store with many video reviews and demonstrations: https://www.speedyfeet.co.uk
Alright Massdrop Community, what do you think? Dumb topic, all you need is a car and your feet? Fun recreational toys? Or honest-to-goodness errand mobiles and transportation supplements? Social Media influencers say they save money and wear on a car, save time, and these personal transports are a whole different experience allowing them to feel the pulse of their city or town. I personally used to kick a scooter to school and around college campus, honestly I would’ve been late for my high school graduation if I didn’t have my little scooter, but I haven’t gotten one of these “adult” build options yet, and I’d like to see some hit Massdrop.