Conferences and industry events. All too often, they are forums where industry actors can perform on stage for clever sound bites and self-congratulation. All fluff, no substance.
Maybe because the industry is young and the participants are naive enough to be speaking their minds, maybe it was because the organizers’ focus was education instead of mere indulgence, the first ever Micromobility Conference was a significant cut above the rest.
Chalk full of ideas, charts, analysis, demos, and contrarian opinions, the day was engaging, thought provoking, self-reflective, and informative.
The conference was also teaming with amazing electric rides from scooters to revolutionary bike/car hybrids, electric mopeds, high-end electric bikes, electric skates, electric unicycles, and even a bike/canoe crossover!
Here’s the day in pictures and bullet points.
But such an overview does this conference no justice. You had to be there to hear the wealth of information presented and to experience the Cambrian Explosion of micromobility in person!
James Gross, Co-Founder of Micromobility Industries
- 1st ever with over 650 registrants with heavy hitting sponsors:
Honda Xcelerator, Jump Rides, Spin, Invers, Twilio, Lyft, Drop, Swiftmile, Morpher, Smide
- A brief history of the Craneway Pavilion and its roots in mobility as the former Ford Motor Company Assembly Plant.
The Reason For Micromobility
Horace Dediu, Co-Founder of Micromobility Industries
- The trend of human civilization is towards urbanization
- Cities bring people closer together facilitating ideas, and creating wealth and prosperity
- Half of all kilometers traveled per year are with cars
- 90% of all car trips are under 20 miles
- Short distance trips are more expensive/valuable
- Short trips are much slower
- Short trips are predominant trips taken
- As urbanization continues, short trips are going to increase
- Orders of magnitude of efficiency is gained from car to micromobility
- And as we add comfort, power, convenience, cargo to micromobility, we begin blurring the line between micromobility and cars
Paula Cormerais, CEO of Pony
- A new business model (and new asset class) for micromobility.
- Adopt a micromobility ride
- User can “adopt” a Pony ride for a fee
- When Ponies are used, you make money
- A new model for micromobility sharing
- Why new model? Micromobility margins are, and will probably stay low
Corinne Vogel, Co-Founder & COO, Nere/smide
- Premium micromobility: Electric bikes that go up to 30 mph with 500 W motors. They offer fun, convenience, and speed.
- While scooters compete against walking, speedy e-bikes compete against cars, taxis, carshare.
- These bikes are often faster than taxies in cities.
- They operate even in Swiss winters.
- Premium bikes don’t need to mean premium prices: People willing to walk further for a premium bike, therefore fleet can be smaller. Usage prediction model reduces fleet operation cost further. No rebalancing needed because of pricing incentives for riders to rebalance fleet themselves.
Rose Song Wang, CEO, InMotion
- Childhood experiences in China riding bikes with her parents were very formative
- Feel like Ironman with electric unicycles
- Micromobility that acts like an extension of your body
- Climb any hill, zip past any traffic, all hands free
- Electric unicycles often beats cars and public transit in cities
Kody Baker, CEO, Veemo
- 3-wheeled bike/car hybrid (or velomobile) built from the ground up
- Offers the comforts of cars with pedaling/legal status of a bicycle
- Offers protection from weather and protection from cars in cities
- Fills in the car sharing and bike sharing gap
- Parks like a car, so doesn’t have the bike/scooter sidewalk parking issues
Micromobility By Water
Jessica Schiller, CEO, Schiller Bikes
- Many cities are located on rivers, canals, and other waterways
- Water personal mobility has a big obstacle: perception
- Most people think of water sports or boating
- Schiller bikes are micromobility on water
- They often beats cars
- And can even carry another micromobility device like another bike
Product For Micromobility
Tony Ho, VP of Global Business, Segway
- Segway focused on:
– Diverse of form factors for diverse users
– IoT (Internet of things) and micromobility
– Autonomous/robotic deliveries
- Diversity of business models is good in the space
- Segway aiming to become the engine that begins the micromobility movement
Motors For Micromobility
David Calley, CEO, Planet Rider
- For motors, the name of the game is torque
- You can achieve good torque by gearing motors down
- One of the best right now is the Bosch system: geared down 15:1 for a powerful riding experience
- But gearing has its disadvantages: efficiency losses, belt noise, reliability and wear, costs of additional parts
- Planet Rider is developing motors with amorphous metals
Safety For Micromobility
Steve Anderson, Senior Engineer, MEA Forensic Engineers & Scientists
- More speed = more deaths
- Helmets are only designed for simple falls from bikes (13mph)
- In micromobility, speeds are higher
- Good thing about bikes/scooters position riders at about standing level
- Pitch over from scooters are usually from tripping so wheel size matters
- But environmental/cultural effects are the biggest contributors to micromobility safety or danger
- US has highest helmet wearing, but most bicycle deaths
- Netherlands has the lowest deaths with almost no helmet use
- It’s the infrastructure stupid! Infrastructure and culture saves the most lives. More cycling, safety in numbers, separation between cars and bikes make the biggest impact in lives saved
- Current levels of American pedestrian and bike death are like a Boeing 737 crashing every 8-9 days…and we tolerate this
Designing for Micromobility
Ryan Rzepecki, CEO, JUMP
Nick Foley, Director of Hardware Products, JUMP
Brief history of JUMP’s journey:
- Dockless bike share idea 2009, inspired by some European models
- Took 4 years to bring product to market! Some reasons: Ryan had no background in industrial design, there was no investor appetite, early designs were very clunky
- After several years of working on unique product design, some product market fit was achieved, especially with Nike sponsored BikeTown
- Chinese brands started scaling very quickly with new business model of dockless model and electric bikes
- A complete pivot was required: Change of business model, direct to consumer instead, rebranded the company, released new e-bike, partnership with Uber, Series A raised capital
- Achieved high levels of use 6-8 rides per bike
- Joined Uber
- Now investing in scooters and unique scooter design
Overview of JUMP’s design process:
- Product requirements for sharing are completely different from consumer ownership
- Designing for three different audiences all with different needs: consumers, operators, and cities
- Design three different pieces of the product/service: software, vehicles, infrastructure
- The advantage of hardware designed, owned, and operated by the same company is fast iteration and innovation
Universal Basic Mobility
Alex Roy, Director of Special Operations, Argo AI
- Universal Basic Mobility (UBM) is inspired by Universal Basic Income (UBI)
- Freedom of movement hadn’t been equated to a right to mobility
- People move and cities have grown faster than governments have built, resulting in older cities with struggling public transit and newer cities with automobile traffic
- We’re seeing more and more people fall into a “mobility underclass” restricting their ability to find and keep jobs, access basic services, contribute to society or maintain a reasonable quality of life
- UBI cannot address these challenges, but UBM can
- UBM implementations will differ from place to place
- “All modes lead to transit” is the new “All roads lead to Rome.”
- No matter what form mobility takes whether it be scooter, autonomous car, etc, they have to lead to transit. You cannot beat transit!
THE DAY IN PICTURES
Scooters letting us know we’re getting warmer! In San Jose on the way to San Francisco.
San Francisco proper: A legendary electric Zero Motorcycles greets us.
And a brand new BART (with built in bike stalls!!!) takes us around.
Thursday arrives: gorgeous view from Richmond.
The historic Craneway Pavilion.
The incredible Organic Transit ELF: 1800 MPGe, weighing a mere 160 lb with 550 lb capacity, by Rob Cotter formerly of Porsche and BMW!
Over 650 registered attendees!
SwiftMile micromobility charging and parking. Taming scooter sidewalk clutter, reducing fleet operation costs.
JUMP with their unique/proprietary bicycle design.
INVERS with a much larger scooter for going beyond the 1st/last mile.
Twilio, the cloud communications platform for connected micromobility.
Smide, the premium, 30 mph, 500 W motor Swiss e-bike sharing company.
The Mighty Morpher Power Helmet: a collapsible solution to cumbersome, bulky headgear.
A cargo scooter! Which is cuter, the puppies or the wheels? We can’t decide…
When you thought you’d seen it all, InMotion e-skates!
Juiced Bikes Scrambler. An incredible machine inspired by ‘70s motorcycle/moped design.
Spin, now part of the Ford Motor Company. Quite fitting, inside a former Ford factory.
The tiniest e-skateboard the world may ever see from Juiced Bikes.
Veemo, the dockless velemoped, blurring the lines and distances between bike and car.
Asher from Transit App chatting with Aindrais of Juiced Bikes and matching a Juiced Bike!
JUMP for joy 🙂
You had to be there to try out all the amazing wheels overlooking the beautiful bay!
So long till next year!