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An Urban Alternative to Personal Mobility

With population and urbanization rates growing, and motorization not showing any signs of slowing down, we need a new option for personal mobility. The current size and rigidness of cars leave little room for future urban growth and threaten the health of cities. But whatever the solution, it must be integrated with a city’s public transportation system, so that it can provide a connected network of mobility, and serve as an alternative to cars.

During last week’s Transforming Transportation conference, Jaime Lerner, the father of the bus rapid transit system, introduced some of his ideas, one of which included a personal mobility device to connect the divide between public and personal transportation. The “Dockdock” will serve as a car-share system, only with smaller vehicles. “It will run at less than 25kmh with a range of 50km,” Jaime Lerner explains to the Guardian. “But you won’t own it.”

Similar to Jaime Lerner’s “Dockdock,” the MIT Media Lab designed a foldable private vehicle specifically for cities. “Hiriko” is 6.5 feet long, 1100 pound vehicle that runs on rechargeable lithium-ion batteries. When fully-charged the vehicle can go up to 120km. Hiriko folds when it is in park mode and occupies a smaller footprint. Each one of the vehicle’s wheels has a drive motor, suspension and steering, which gives the vehicle a greater sense of movement and freedom–something that will come in especially handy in a tight and congested city.

These kinds of personal vehicles can cover the gap between bike-share and full-on car-share, like Zipcar. They would be perfect for shorter distance tasks or when you have a small amount of baggage to carry, like when you go grocery shopping.

What do you think of inventions like the “Dockdock” and “Hiriko”? Are they a good alternative to driving in the city? Would you ever use them? How and when?

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