Time for More Diverse Vehicles

Biking to work this morning I passed a golf-cart like vehicle that was chugging down the street. I was reminded about how uncreative we are with our choices of vehicles. Most households have a couple of cars — and those cars are overbuilt for what they’re actually used for 95% of the time. They’re set up to carry five people, go really fast, etc. — when almost all our trips are single person to a close destination where speed isn’t paramount. It’s like using a sledgehammer to kill the housefly, or using a blunderbuss when a rubber band gun would do.

For getting around town, we could use those golf cart vehicles, which, if moving at 20 mph, would get us to our five-mile destination in 15 minutes, compared with 12 minutes for a 30 mph car ride. Many folks are moving to FlexCar for their second car, but we it seems we could be using more scooters, golf carts, electric bikes, etc. (and, of course, normal bikes) for short trips of one person. With transportation expenditures almost equal to housing costs, it seems just cultural expectation (and mental difficulty in adding fixed costs to marginal costs in our heads) that’s preventing us from thinking more creatively about matching our vehicles to our needs.

Traveling in the future may involve twelve or twenty significantly different types of vehicles all moving around town. From the Segway to the bike, the wheelchair to the golf cart, the pick-up to the bus, it seems more diversity is the way of the future.

When it comes to bikes, there are definitely some creative vehicles out there, and the industry seems to be constantly offering new products that actually meet the trips — the new around-town cruisers are the perfect example. When will other industries catch up? What price will gas have to reach?

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