Yesterday, Pace Bike Share announced it would not be returning to my hometown of Rochester for this summer, or ever. In an effort to “reassess their business model,” Pace is pulling out of multiple markets across the country, leaving many riders who have enjoyed their service without a two-wheeled transportation or recreational option.
If Covid-19 and the lack of bike share has you wondering how to explore your city this summer (hopefully we will be able to ride together by then!), below are some conventional and non-conventional options to consider.
Note that I’m going to list the options based an a couple of assumptions… either space or income are an issue. Both of which are/have been issues for me (my car is actually a giant bike and skateboard storage facility). I find that these are often the two key reasons people use bike share but don’t have a bike of their own.
Folding Bikes – Starting at $269
When space is limited, there are few forms of active transportation more practical than the folding bike. Most can fold and unfold relatively easily in less than 30 seconds, and while they might seem difficult to ride, they’re not unlike any upright-style bike.
On a budget, I recommend the Citizen bike lineup for their cost effectiveness and surprising quality. I own a Citizen Tokyo, which features tiny 16” wheels, but the 20” wheel variety will certainly give you the spatial flexibility and portability you need with a little more “glide” to help you enjoy the folding bike experience.
The Kick Scooter – Starting at $85
OK let’s get the stigma out of the way… yes, a lot of people think it’s weird that a grown human might consider a kick scooter for transportation. The truth is, if you can get past this, the kick scooter is one of the most practical and efficient forms of micro mobility out there. With the portability that rivals a skateboard and the added safety of brakes and handlebars, the scooter is secretly my favorite choice here.
For the sake of this conversation, we are gonna throw all the little-wheeled scooters your kids ride out of this group and talk about scooters that are appropriate for commuting. Bigger wheels, solid braking and more glide… these are key. Starting with the Razor A5, this scooter offers some great benefits at an approachable price ($85).
If you’re looking for something a little spiffier, Micro Kickboard offers an array of extremely high-quality options, as does Xootr. The adult options for these brands start at around $200 and the quality and ease of use are worth every penny.
The Skateboard/Longboard – Starting at Around $100
Again, clear the stigma and preconceived notions out of your mind. In the past year, I have taught myself to ride a skateboard with relative comfort.
People have been commuting by skateboard in larger cities for a very long time. The surging popularity of the longboard, which makes for a comfortable and speedy experience, has encouraged even more people to changed their view of skateboards and dive into this world of last-mile options.
What makes skateboards great is their portability. While not as fast as a bike or even a scooter, it pairs perfectly with public transit to get you to work, home or to the store. And once you get the hang of it, I have to tell you… it’s fun. Even if you are like me and have no desire to do tricks, simply cruising down the street or sidewalk on one of these is a freeing experience. Check out your local skate shops, or check out the wealth of quality options online. I recommend Beercan Boards because of their insane quality, stability and comfort. They are made of recycled aluminum right here in the United States… a truly amazing product!
Quality skateboards start at about $100, though decent ones can be found for a little less. If you’re just getting started, I recommend something with a wider deck (9 inches of more), bigger wheels (the bigger the wheels, the smoother the ride) and a length of 30” or more (longer is typically more stable).
Again, there are a myriad of choices that may or may not fit your active transportation needs. These are just a few that can be purchased without a lot of money and stored easily in any apartment. Bikes of all shapes and sizes, electric scooters and skateboards… these are also wonderful options, but most hang out at a much higher price point. I’ll address these in another post but here are some thoughts for now.
The above options catch some glances and occasionally even sneers. On the other hand, many people stop you because they think it’s cool. The truth is that the hardest part about any of the above is shaking the American perception that you are less human if you don’t drive a car everywhere. If you can get past that, ANY of the above options are empowering, worthwhile and fun. Better exercise, better for the environment and better for our urban centers… last mile micro mobility options are the transportation of tomorrow.