MKE// 0001

Mixed modal transit

A Millenia ago in a rocky and cold cave a man struck a couple rocks together against assorted twigs, flint and kindling to revolutionise the world with fire. Some time later a bright spark realised that round objects roll and stumbled on to the wheel. We asked aminals to pull our karts, then asked the engine to pull our locomotives and automobiles. And then, for a longtime we interacted on the concepts to ebb between various mass and personal transportation systems variated from this generic base. The suburbs with their sprawling roads, open highways to open vistas have tended towards the automobile.   The connected cities with boutique lanes and dense verticality necessitating the communal modes of transit. Somewhere between these two extents exists the smallest personal transport systems to be used by the individual in combination with the mass transit options. The greatest strength of mass transit is in its ability to move large numbers of persons very quickly across large generic distances. 

Take the heavy rail network as a good example, a subject I have spoken about previously and regularly use in Sydney (I am currently writing this on carriage D6303). This is a system able to quickly move large numbers of passengers across the Sydney basin. However, when arriving at a station close to your destination, many of us are forced to use a connecting transit system like buses, ferries or light rail. Navigating beyond this second layer of transit, there exists for a further few a 5 to 10 minute traverse to finally reach the intended destination. For those whose circumstances necessitates the use of public transport, it is likely you might have taken these transport links in to heavy consideration when deciding where to reside. Perhaps there is a car you must park at your local station. Or the station beyond in order to get a parking spot or quicker train. Alternatively, the added time and incovieniece involved in this extra step is deemed perhaps one too far. 

In the last decade or so, we realised the earth has warmed a little too much and it is definitely our fault. In this light, we have cut green house gases, shunned coal, elevated renewable enegergies and espoused the virtues of electrified mobility. It is within this context that I decided to put together an electric longboard [longer skateboard] to enable the complete mixed modal loop. As an aside, I have enjoyed casually long boarding for a few years now and have a couple longboards which see little use for lack of time and laziness to kick/push. 

The electric skateboard scene is a maturing one, emerging out of its hobby roots and moving towards the mainstream, commercially packaged and eventually to be commoditised. But not yet, the forums are still full of passsionate individuals with can do attitudes and pragmatic builds. Battery technology, electronic controllers, motors and pulleys have iterated to their penultimate. This is the phase beyond raw engineering, where the leaps and bounds become hops and skips. This phase of innovation belongs to the designer. The point of differentiation now moves to ‘interaction’, use cases and usability.  In the next edition of MAKE we look back to the history of the hobby and examine the standards and staples already established. In understanding what is, you in turn learn what is not and what it can become.