Consider the journey that you took this morning and the resources that went into moving you from one place to the other. Deep down we all know that sitting in a line of 300 cars with one person in each car isn’t the most efficient or fastest way to be transported, but how can we solve this issue?
A good place to start thinking is public transport. We have all seen the dramatised photos comparing a street filled with 30 cars, to those same people on bikes or on a bus. However there are so many conditions that mean public transport is not the desirable way to travel. Living in New Zealand means that even a 15 minute walk at the other end may mean you’re partially drowned by the time you arrive at work.
While we’re thinking outside the box I like to think that there are two opportunities here. There is a chance to speed up the trip or at the very least make it more enjoyable or affordable, and there is the sustainable angle. There are so many ways of tackling this issue, so I took a look into a few of them.
Onzo bikes, Lime Scooters, and electric skateboards. These are all interesting options, with the most recent explosion onto this scene being Lime scooters. They will set you back more than the bus ride, but if you have a flat commute there is nothing better. I like the idea of an electrically assisted ride with a side of exercise, it seems to tick so many boxes. And as New Zealand has some of the highest rates of heart disease in the world, we could all use some more exercise.
How about ride sharing?
There is the classic Taxi, Uber or Zoomy option, but when you realise that cars in NZ spend 95% of their lives stationary waiting for their owners to return there is definitely room for improvement there. There are new initiatives like Mevo or YourDrive. Mevo allows you or anyone else to hire an electric Audi to motor around Wellington and park at pre-existing spots. Or YourDrive allows anyone that passes a check to rent a car off any car owner. At the moment these options are all on the more expensive side of the spectrum, but I can imagine a future with a fleet of public cars to use, that we can hop on and off at will.
There is one problem with the rideshare or alternate vehicle system. Our cities are continuing to be designed in such a way that they hold the status quo and have difficulty adjusting to shared zones for vehicles going different speeds. If we want to adopt more innovative solutions to getting around then we need to bring our own social pressure to change the way we view public space. Christchurch is doing a fantastic job of prioritising isolated bike lanes, and its something the rest of NZ should catch onto.
Finally we are onto the gooey center in the middle of this problem! This is an opportunity to look at a circular economy. The idea that resources should work for us continuously rather than end up in landfill after a single use. This is wrapped up neatly by the idea that we often need to be moved from point A to B in comfort, not have a car? Uber has already taken a leap here and overseas if you book a ride similar to someone near you, there is an option to hop in a car with a stranger going in the same direction. This I feel is peek into our future, and we must keep developing a connected culture of sharing, and dare I say it I’m fairly optimistic that it’s just around the corner.