Micro-Mobility Reconnects Us by Supporting Local Culture and Sustainable Development

6/21/2019

Micro-Mobility Reconnects Us by Supporting Local Culture and Sustainable Development

“Nice neighborhood you’ve got there. Sure would be a shame if someone put a highway through it.”

So says the text over the face of Robert Moses in a meme that launched the Facebook group “New Urbanist Memes for Transit-Oriented Teens.” The infamous mid-20th-century city planner has been both praised and blamed for projects that sent highways crashing through communities and helped make the car the dominant form of urban transportation. The environmental impacts of those decisions have become all too clear. But the social and cultural effects are not obvious, perhaps, until we see them next to neighborhoods reconnected not only by the internet, but also by what Populus CEO Regina Clewlaw has called the “micro-mobility revolution.”

Put simply, small, personal vehicles provide opportunities to connect and collaborate at a far more human and intimate scale than, say, the Cross Bronx Expressway. If the age of the car is coming to an end, at least in major cities, then long live the age of Little Vehicles, “not just bikes and scooters, but e-bikes, velomobilies, motorized skateboards, unicycles, ‘hoverboards,’ and other small battery-powered low-speed not-a-cars,” as Benjamin Schneider writes at City Lab. “If cities take them seriously, they could be a really, really big deal. Little Vehicles could significantly erode private car and ride-hail use, and play a key role in helping cities achieve their as of now unattainable environmental and road safety goals.”

2019 is the year—we’re told—when such personalized transportation solutions, especially scooters, take over. The micro-mobility explosion also happens to coincide with the rise of an increasingly mobile class of young creators who value their independence and ability to maneuver quickly through city streets. Street photography, for example, has taken on new life thanks to Instagram and popular celebrity photographers like Riverdale’s Cole Sprouse (who started out, he confesses to Teen Vogue, as a trespass photographer, or “urban explorer”). Currently on the 2019 SXSW schedule is a panel on micro-mobility featuring Clewlow, whose data has shown overwhelming popular approval of e-scooters. As e-scooters see wide adoption, will their use by young artists open up new avenues for creative expression?

It’s a question worth considering as city planners also think about the key role of local culture in urban development. The Global Taskforce of Local and Regional Governments recently concluded that “cities need vitality, meaning, identity and innovation, and citizens need to widen their freedoms.” That includes the freedom to move with ease through neighborhoods, and to explore, celebrate, and create vibrant new cultural forms. Where car culture impoverished many urban communities, isolating people from each other, micro-mobility options like scooters can begin to reverse the trend, bringing people closer together and giving them more opportunities to meet, share, and collaborate.

Micro-mobility will play a critical role in sustainable development by reducing environmental impact and supporting and encouraging more social and cultural cohesion. As the authors of a recent report on local culture put it, “cultural vitality is an absolute necessity to city life because it permeates all spheres of living and lies at the foundation of freedoms, the public exchange of ideas, and societal well-being.” Thriving in rapidly growing and expanding cities will require the kind of personal mobility that also leads to serendipitous connections, breaks down old habits and routines, and writes new urban pathways and networks. The social and the personal benefits are inseparable—the more we connect with our local environments and the people around us, the more we are personally enriched.

The explosion of little vehicles provides more opportunities for exploration, socializing, and creativity by minimizing habit-forming routines and distractions that lead to disconnection. While public transit and autonomous vehicles free us from the burdon of driving, they also free up our hands and eyes to indulge in more screen time rather than face-to-face encounters. Tablets and phones connect us to our work and social networks while pulling us away from the physical environments we live in. E-bikes, scooters, and other vehicles force us to pay attention again. Rather than relying solely on second-hand information from review sites to navigate the city, for example, we can begin to see our surroundings anew, filling in the blindspots of crowdsourcing with firsthand, personal investigations.

These observations give added resonance to the buzzword “micro-mobility,” which transcends the current frenzy of competition for market share. As one artist has interpreted the term, “the physical and intellectual navigation's of the places in which we live impact our relationships to them. These experiences are often access points to people and communities that have the potential to raise aspirations, bring inspiration, and participation on a personal and infrastructural level.” To be micro-mobile is to interact at street level, something e-scooters like Unagi enable as personal transportation tools. What that looks like varies so widely from person to person, city to city, that there’s no way to predict what will happen as more people step out of the isolation boxes of cars, buses, and trains, put their phones down, and pay attention to what’s going on around them.

It can be something as simple as taking in the local restaurant you used to drive past on the way to flashier downtown destinations. It can mean cruising through the city and noticing the unique beauty of architecture and public art that seemed like so much faceless scenery rushing by the windows. These small shifts in direction and perception are not isolated; they become part of a cumulative “chain of events/access points” that lead to different ways of being in the world. Even the numbing rigors of the daily commute can be transformed into a daily adventure, and a chance to see your city like you’ve never seen it before.

Unagi Life
Camping + Electric Scooters: The Dynamic Duo You Never Thought Of

4/8/2021

Camping + Electric Scooters: The Dynamic Duo You Never Thought Of

Coronavirus has changed the way we travel, and we like to think this will be for the better in the future. While flying off to your favorite international destination may have seemed like a great idea before ... and border closures made it impossible, all that air travel wasn’t doing the planet any favors

Who Invented the Scooter?

12/8/2020

Who Invented the Scooter?

Where did electric scooters come from? “About a decade ago, scooters, rideshares, and e-bikes did not even exist in our vocabulary,” writes Sergio Avedian in an article that asks “is the scooter era ending?” They may seem new, but it’s…

Scooter Rental vs Scooter Subscription: Which is Better?

10/2/2020

Scooter Rental vs Scooter Subscription: Which is Better?

For a few years, it seemed as if city streets would soon belong to shared electric scooters and bikes. The prospect seemed to enrage as many people as it excited, and there was much wrangling over the new micromobility transportation…

Rideshare, Subway, or Scooter: The Fastest Way to Commute

8/28/2020

Rideshare, Subway, or Scooter: The Fastest Way to Commute

Commuting is terrible, and not only in the ordinary sense of frustrating and annoying. The problem has reached the level of a public health crisis. It wastes an “astonishing” amount of “human potential,” claims The Washington Post, drains our energy…

Electric Scooters: Range vs Weight

8/19/2020

Electric Scooters: Range vs Weight

Advances in battery technology have led to a market filled with high-quality electric scooters for everything from tooling around the neighborhood to competitive off-road racing. It’s an exciting time to buy a scooter, but also a confusing time, given the…

Electric Bikes vs Electric Scooters: Which One Should You Choose?

8/14/2020

Electric Bikes vs Electric Scooters: Which One Should You Choose?

Micromobility has arrived. Personal electric vehicles are solving last mile problems and replacing car trips as major cities move away from car-centric infrastructure. Increasingly, commuters are realizing how much faster and easier it is to get to work on an…

Is It Worth Buying an Electric Scooter?

6/17/2020

Is It Worth Buying an Electric Scooter?

As cities become more crowded and traffic worsens by the year, the old ways of commuting have become increasingly unsustainable. So, is it worth buying yourself an electric scooter?

Getting Scooters to Covid-19 First Responders

6/3/2020

Getting Scooters to Covid-19 First Responders

The Covid-19 crisis has ushered in a period of sickness, fear, confusion, and fatigue across the planet. Naturally, we're all looking for a little hope. At Unagi, we're trying to carve out a humble corner of optimism by helping the…

Chicago’s North Side: 5 Wellness-Inspired Stops in the Windy City

11/16/2019

Chicago’s North Side: 5 Wellness-Inspired Stops in the Windy City

Home to Wrigley field, beautiful skyscrapers, large parks, and public beaches along Lake Michigan, the North Side of Chicago is one of the most recognizable areas of the Windy City. The district is bordered by the Chicago River, the West…

Unagi, Deconstructed: How An E-Scooter Works

11/9/2019

Unagi, Deconstructed: How An E-Scooter Works

It’s not magic. It might look like a bespelled work of Byzantine machinery unearthed, reformed, and refitted for a new age, but the electrical chariots of modernity are powered by ions, not alchemy. To satisfy the voracious cravings of our…

Lower East Side: 4 Insider Hangouts in NYC’s Grit-Trendy Neighborhood

11/1/2019

Lower East Side: 4 Insider Hangouts in NYC’s Grit-Trendy Neighborhood

Complaints of rapid gentrification are nothing new to New York City. Beginning with a sharp decrease in crime stemming from Mayor Giuliani’s aggressive broken window policing of New York in the 1990s, wealth has poured, settled, rearranged, and redeployed across…

North Venice: 6 Stops in Scooter Mecca

10/23/2019

North Venice: 6 Stops in Scooter Mecca

Venice holds a special place in California lore. From its purple sunsets and quiet canals to the bombast and theatrically of its ocean front walk, the beachside town retains prime position in the tapestry of the internationally exported West Coast…

Honolulu: 4 Stops to Feel The Mana

10/20/2019

Honolulu: 4 Stops to Feel The Mana

In the Spring of 1795, at the end of his campaign to unify the Hawaiin islands, the great King Kamehameha I divided his army to engage the forces of his rival Kalanikupule on the southeastern portion of O’ahu. While one…

Frogtown: 7 Spots in LA’s Hidden Paradise

8/21/2019

Frogtown: 7 Spots in LA’s Hidden Paradise

There was a young man, sitting on the cement bank of a river, fishing for carp, and the wind rose around him. A voyeur might find himself compelled to question his state of awareness, but no amount of blinking or…

Why owning an Unagi beats using Rideshare Scooters

7/15/2019

Why owning an Unagi beats using Rideshare Scooters

It’s been eight years since Uber’s historic beta launch in San Francisco, and, despite a deluge of complaints levied by traditional transportation competitors, governments, and customers, the Uber model – and ridesharing at large – has become ubiquitous. Ease of…

A Case For Electric Scooter Ownership: The Unagi Manifesto

6/21/2019

A Case For Electric Scooter Ownership: The Unagi Manifesto

The Rapid Growth of the E-Scooter Ownership Market A study created jointly by Unagi Scooters and UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business has found that elect estimate that 35% of scooter riders will prefer to own rather than rent,...

Your Morning Commute - Reviewing Cost vs Convenience

6/21/2019

Your Morning Commute - Reviewing Cost vs Convenience

Unagi is proud to announce the launch of its Commute Calculator! As urban commute routes grow in volume and density, prospective commuters need access to current, up-to-date travel information in order to make informed decisions on how to get around.…

Micro-Mobility Reconnects Us by Supporting Local Culture and Sustainable Development

6/21/2019

Micro-Mobility Reconnects Us by Supporting Local Culture and Sustainable Development

“Nice neighborhood you’ve got there. Sure would be a shame if someone put a highway through it.” So says the text over the face of Robert Moses in a meme that launched the Facebook group “New Urbanist Memes for Transit-Oriented…

Unagi Neighborhoods: Little Tokyo

6/21/2019

Unagi Neighborhoods: Little Tokyo

Little Tokyo Los Angeles is not the best representation of European cross-continental culture. The French, Italians, Russians, and most of the great Western and Eastern European migrant groups of the 19th and 20th centuries set up footholds in New York,…

4 Unagi Approved Dates:  NYC, LA, SF, MIA

6/21/2019

4 Unagi Approved Dates: NYC, LA, SF, MIA

We get it. Dating can be tough. The googling, the yelping, the planning, the reservations, the transportation. . .  the process can be overwhelming. Making a good first impression can also be a source of anxiety for millions of single…

4 Unagi Approved Dates

5/19/2019

4 Unagi Approved Dates

We get it. Dating can be tough. The googling, the yelping, the planning, the reservations, the transportation. . . the process can be overwhelming. Making a good first impression can also be a source of anxiety for millions of single…

The Scooter, A History

5/10/2019

The Scooter, A History

Two wheels and a plank. It would be a modest beginning for a mode of transportation characterized by peaks and troughs in use and popularity unrivaled by any other contemporary human propellant. Although difficult to pinpoint, it is generally accepted…

Little Tokyo

5/1/2019

Little Tokyo

Los Angeles is not the best representation of European cross-continental culture. The French, Italians, Russians, and most of the great Western and Eastern European migrant groups of the 19th and 20th centuries set up footholds in New York, where their…

Micro Mobility & Local Culture

4/15/2019

Micro Mobility & Local Culture

“Nice neighborhood you’ve got there. Sure would be a shame if someone put a highway through it.” So says the text over the face of Robert Moses in a meme that launched the Facebook group “New Urbanist Memes for Transit-Oriented…

Commute Calculator

3/5/2019

Commute Calculator

Unagi is proud to announce the launch of its Commute Calculator As urban commute routes grow in volume and density, prospective commuters need access to current, up-to-date travel information in order to make informed decisions on how to get around.…