How New Urban Mobility Technologies Can Help Developing Countries Leapfrog Legacy Urban Mobility And Help Developed Ones Cut The Cord

How New Urban Mobility Technologies Can Help Developing Countries Leapfrog Legacy Urban Mobility And Help Developed Ones Cut The Cord



Cord Cutting

Bundling is big business. Cable companies make a killing packaging hundreds of channels together making customers pay for it all, even when most of them only watch between 10-20 channels.

But cable companies are seeing their expensive, bundled business slowly eroding with customers cutting the chord and switching to Internet streaming services like Netflix and Hulu that have a much more limited selection of content, yet are much lower cost and on-demand.


A similar phenomenon called leapfrogging occurs when a town or country simply skips past a technological stage and simply adopts a newer, cheaper technology. It’s cord cutting, but skipping cord adoption to begin with!

  • Cellphones vs landlines: Skipping the need for tens of thousands of miles of copper to every house, going straight to cell towers.
  • Smartphones vs PCs: Skipping PCs, adopting much cheaper smartphones with the same computer power and software capabilities of traditional PCs.
  • Decentralized solar vs centralized fossil fuel: Leapfrogging traditional, large scale, fossil fuel power plants in favor of decentralized solar farms.

Developed vs Less Developed Areas

Cord-cutting usually occurs in more developed cities or countries where the obsolete incumbents exist and are being ditched. Leapfrogging usually happens in less developed areas where the obsolete, expensive technology has not been (and will never be) adopted.

Legacy Mobility Machines That Will Need Cord-Cutting and Leapfrogging

We may soon start seeing global cord-cutting and leapfrogging in urban mobility.

Cars are expensive, legacy machines. They’re large transportation bundles that most users don’t need. Their feature list includes:

  • 5-7 passenger capacity
  • Storage for two months of groceries with room to spare
  • Towing small trailers
  • Speeding over 100 mph

How do we use these 4-6000 lb machines? Mostly to carry one or two people, a bit of cargo, and our coffee cups, going an average speed of a pokey 20-25 mph on city streets, stopping every mile or so at a red light. Cars are further under-utilized because they sit idle most of the time, all the while consuming valuable city real estate.

To get a sense of just how excessive cars are, just watch their commercials displaying all the things we almost never do with our cars in the real world: off-roading, speeding along the open road, and the latest, most laughable example, towing a jetliner, the equivalent of “offering” 1 million channels that no one will actually use and making customers pay for it.

Our use of cars as our primary means of urban mobility is even more jarring than our cable subscriptions. Beyond our egregious under-utilization and over-payment of cars and their features, we’ve built a massive, expensive superstructure to accommodate them: heavy-duty roads and bridges, a network of gas stations, a worldwide energy extraction apparatus due to their massive energy needs, etc.

Cars are way, way worse than the even most expensive, most monopolistic cable company.

So in developed cities and countries, cars are primed for major cord cutting. And in developing cities where the car isn’t as prevalent or in walk/bike/transit oriented places, cars will be simply be leapfrogged.


Over the past few years the humble bicycle, scooter, and skateboard have begun evolving.

First, they acquired the power of the electric motor and battery. This gave them the biggest benefit of cars: power. This translates to ease of use, drastically less sweating/panting, uphill boosts, longer range. So most of the upside of cars without the weight, size, inefficiency, emissions, traffic, safety issues, and sprawl issues.

But the fun didn’t stop there! The bicycle, scooter, and skateboard have begun diversifying in form factor.

This diversification has seeing an entire ecosystem of new, light, green, efficient, affordable, and easy to ride vehicles from electric unicycles, to electric folding bikes, to electric bicycle-cars hybrids, skateboard-scooter hybrids, to electric cargo bikes, to motorcycle-bikes, and on and on.

Electric power combined with the diversification of form factors has spawned an entirely new class of mobility: lightweight electric vehicles.

By essentially stealing the best part of the car, the engine/motor, and slicing up the chunky automobile into an ecosystem of different form factors, lightweight EVs give us all the benefits of cars with almost none of their negative side effects!

And with stunning results. Let’s compare are lightweight EVs to cars:

Lightweight electric vehicles simply blow cars away in every category.


Biomega, OKO, bike, electric bike

With such massive advantages over cars, LEVs have the potential to help people and cities do some major cord-cutting from and leapfrogging of big auto and big oil.

E-bikes ownership is already starting to replace car rides: “More e-bikes means fewer cars on the road—and more people in the bike saddle.”

Dockless e-bike and e-scooter sharing companies will start replacing 1-2 mile Uber and Lyft rides. Uber even recognized this fact and recently bought out JUMP, and electric bike sharing company: Uber “did see the potential of having the bikes replace some amount of car trips,” he said. “Instead of resisting that, they embraced it and opened up the market.”


Both rich and not-so-rich places have demonstrated the benefits of walk/bike/bus urban mobility. From bike-famous Copenhagen to Latin American Bogota (above image), the gains are universal, substantial, and very clear: richer cities, richer, healthier, happier citizens, cleaner air, less traffic, less traffic deaths, less emissions, less oil dependance, etc.

LEVs are good for people, cities, and the planet as a whole. They cut carbon emissions, cut pollution, reduce car crash injuries and deaths, help eliminate traffic, drastically cut energy use, free up wasted urban space and wasted capital on oil, encourage active mobility which is great for health, increase quality of life, create more desirable neighborhoods and streets, and on and on.

So LEVs can help rapidly accelerate the decrease of car dependence, offering a far more affordable urban mobility alternative to the car without sacrificing the ease and speed that biking/walking often suffer from thanks to advanced motors and battery technologies.

They can do so in the form of cord-cutting in richer cities/countries and in the form of leapfrogging in not-so-developed areas.

And the best part is adoption of LEVs is very easy. LEV/bike infrastructure is super affordable to build for the government. And LEVs are relatively cheap to buy for citizens.

So any country or city can cycle its way to energy independence and cut the chord and/or leapfrog big auto and bigger oil all the while reducing global warming, increasing happiness, and creating better cities!

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