Thursday, March 20, 2014

The Two Mile Solution

Bike advocates are fond of stating that 40% of all trips are two miles or less and it's really pretty silly to drive such a short distance. I agree with this basic premise, but I've also found that there are times when even a bike more vehicle than I need for such short trips. For my four block commute, for example, lugging my bike up and down the stairs and then locking it up at my destination added more time and complexity to the trip than was worthwhile. Add multiple stops, crowded sidewalks or tight space on public transit and the mind naturally looks for something smaller and simpler than a bike.

There is no shortage of ideas for devices to address this problem. Here is a recent example:

It's called the HalfBike and it's on KickStarter right now. While I could see people being intrigued by this device and it might be fun to ride, it's not something I see myself using. It looks like it's going to retail for $899 and there are a lot of things, including bikes, that I'd rather spend my money on.

The SoloWheel is a compact, electric laptop vehicle that is easily carried and looks fun as heck. It's also a bit beyond this bike mechanic's price range.

Which brings me to the point of this little blog post. There currently exists a great device for those short, urban trips. It's called a kick scooter. I've been scootering around on one for the past year. It's fun, it folds quick so I can carry it easily into stores or onto the bus. It never needs charging. It looks like this:

Folded, it looks like this:

The wheels are bigger than what you see on the kid's Razor scooters and they roll fine over cracks and ruts.

I did a lot of research in the year before I got my scooter and I've kept a close eye on the scooter world since I got it. I still think my scooter, a NYCeWheels KickPed, is one of the nicest adult kickscooters available. It costs $239 and I think it's worth every penny.

There is some debate in the scooter world about hand brakes and foot brakes. I've never missed having a front brake (if I did, I'd put one on, I'm a tinkerer!) but interestingly you can spend less and get more by getting a Go-Ped Know-Ped. This is made by the same folks who manufacture my scooter but it has a wider deck (heavier & less efficient for kicking), a front brake and a painted rather than lacquer finish. But it's currently selling for about $70 less than the KickPed on Amazon and the folks who have Know-Peds seem just as happy with their scooter's as I am with mine.

I really like the grippy tires the KickPed/Know-Ped comes with. In this wet climate I don't think I'd feel as safe on a scooter with urethane, although such machines are generally lighter and faster. The Micro Black is such a scooter and it gets good reviews.

In the year that I've had my scooter, I've become something of a scooter evangelist. Scooters are fun, they're good exercise and I think they are a great solution for short trips.

Keep 'em rolling,

Kent "Scooting Turtle" Peterson
Issaquah WA USA

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