A few weeks ago, I coined the term "BikeWalk", a “new” transportation/mobility infrastructure concept. The seed for the “Bikewalk!” sprouted after seeing missed opportunities for good bicycle infrastructure in the Bay Area (Bay Meadows, MainStreet Cupertino, Santa Clara Square). While the term "BikeWalk" was new, the idea is actually old hat and already a reality in many cities around the world: Sydney, Taipei, Tokyo. After listening to a recent KQED Forum debate about e-Scooters in San Francisco, and witnessing the convenience of e-Scooters (Bird, Lime, etc), I’m now doubly convinced of the concept and want to expand the idea of a BikeWalk further.
The reality is that the built American landscape only accommodates two modes of transportation: the private automobile (primary), and walking (secondary). Think about it, what traffic lights and signals do we see at intersections? Red/Yellow/Green traffic lights for cars, and a white man/red hand for pedestrians. But today, our communities need to serve and connect so many more people, uses, and spaces, that these two transportation modes alone are no longer efficient, or sufficient.
We need to create a third mobility mode which supports a combination of transportation options: bikes/e-bikes, roller-skates/roller-blades, skateboards/hoverboards, scooters/e-scooters. Heck, let’s even put the Segway in this category. What ties these modes together? Speed and mass.
Bikes/e-bikes, roller skates/blades, skateboards/hoverboards, scooters/e-scooters, even Segways, are in a different category altogether. These modes are human operated, but not enclosed, and can travel at speeds between 10-15 mph. By law, they are considered “vehicles” and therefore subject to each state’s vehicle codes. But for all practical purposes, they are objects that have neither the weight, bulk, protection, nor speed of private automobiles, vans, trucks or buses. However, the laws of physics decree that people travelling on these wheeled objects would be grievously harmed by 4,000-pound metal objects travelling at 30 miles per hour, but could also cause harm to individuals ambling at 4 miles per hour. (Remember: Force = mass x acceleration)
The first step to create a solution for this third mobility mode is to name this category of vehicles and create the vocabulary and language to describe their properties and requirements. So I hereby name bikes/e-bikes, roller-skates/blades, skateboards/hoverboards, scooters/e-scooters and Segways: “Human-Mobiles” and call the new infrastructure to support them “Happy-Lanes”.
“Happy-Lanes” can and should be Human Lanes, Hopeful Lanes and Healthy Lanes. They allow people to zip along faster than pedestrians, more nimbly than automobiles, and safely on separated pathways. They fuel an innate human desire to be hopeful, healthy and happy about their mobility possibilities.
If you like this concept and are interested/ serious in making Happy-Lanes for Human-Mobiles (the Third Mobility Mode) a reality, please holler!