Business & Economy
April 13, 2021

The Battery Revolution in Our Times

When technology and economy come together, that’s usually called a revolution.

You can get one of these electric scooters for a few hundred bucks at Canadian Tire:

 

Joe Sulmona says you may soon be able to get one of these if you need  more carrying capacity.

Bigger battery too.  From Euractiv:

Advances in technology mean that battery-powered heavy trucks can go up against their fossil-fuel counterparts on price and – with better charging infrastructure – on range, according to the study, conducted by the Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI), an independent research institute.

“A tipping point is in sight for electric trucks,” said Björn Nykvist, lead author and senior researcher at SEI. “Battery technology is very close to a threshold that makes electric trucks feasible and economically competitive. All that is missing is one companion component: fast charging.”

If you’d like to know more the evolution of one-person electric transportation and its impact on urban transit as a whole,  here’s a more definitive piece from Boundmotor:

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When Tony Valente invited me over for a tour of recent cycling developments in the City of North Vancouver, he offered an irresistible inducement: an e-bike experience.

As someone who has never quite seen the need for one (or felt that it was a kind of cheating), I nonetheless anticipated that e-bikes were the wave of the future.  In fact, I was surprised they hadn’t washed ashore sooner in a tsunami from some massive factory in Taiwan.

Well, the future is showing up – that wave is coming in on the North Shore.  In particular, at Tony Sun’s Reckless outlet in The Shipyards.

Perhaps it’s is a confluence of factors: small powerful batteries, an aging demographic, falling prices, the need for pandemic-safe recreation, the cool factor.

Or even hormones.  Once Tony took a few minutes to explain the basic mechanics, I was pressing the button to kick in the e-assist.  It was like a hit of adrenaline, the bike felt almost alive, and out of my mouth came an unforced reaction.

Whee!

And what better place to take a test run than the North Shore.  They have hills over there.  Long ones, like East Keith Road:

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Vancouver, get ready.

Via Dianna

From the San Francisco Chronicle:

San Francisco will allow 750 more electric rental scooters onto the streets Sunday as the second phase of a pilot program rolls out.

That brings the total number of scooters allowed in the city to 3,250. It’s a mark of cautious approval for a clean but controversial technology, which still leaves people worried about illegal sidewalk riding and injuries. …

Two months into San Francisco’s pilot program, Supervisor Aaron Peskin cautiously voiced support.

“I would say so far, not bad, compared to ‘scootergeddon’ of last year,” Peskin said, comparing the unregulated scooters that swarmed city streets in spring 2018 to an apocalypse. “Although there is still some sidewalk riding and still some injuries, all in all the rollout has been going well.” …

A May report from Boston Consulting Group found that scooter companies are hardpressed to make money: The devices have an average life span of three months, but companies need four months to break even per device. Longerlasting batteries may help.

The report also forecast consolidation in the industry, and that is indeed happening. In June, Bird bought Scoot, a San Francisco company, and its coveted city permit. …

“We don’t know whether these jobs are going to exist five or 10 years down the road, whether scooters are a passing fad,” said Doug Bloch, political director for Teamsters.

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I served with Don Bell on the regional district board when he was Mayor of the District of North Vancouver.  Now he’s a councillor In the City (CNV), and one of the longest serving local leaders in Metro.

So yeah, he’s an old white guy who’s been around a long time.  How does he stay relevant?

Like this:

Don Bell bought an e-scooter/bike.

Cllr Tony Vallente took this shot at the opening of Reckless Shipyards, where two modes – scooters and cycles – are hybridizing.

I always thought of Don as a windshield politician.  A car windshield.  Everything he saw on the other side was designed to assist the way he was moving, from the engineering of the road to the size of the parking lot.  All the houses and apartment buildings, the shops and offices, the warehouses and whatever – everything based on the assumption that almost everyone drove, almost everywhere, almost all the time.

Don’s world.  Where the car is a member of the family.

That was the District Don was mayor of. But it’s not the City he represents now – the city that has embraced urbanism, that believes in the regional vision – of dense, mixed-use centres, connected by good transit.  Like Lower Lonsdale.  And now Upper Lonsdale.

The Council has, by fits and starts, agreed to get denser and different.  To not be as car dependent.  North Vancouver isn’t just suburbia.  Nor is Don now just a driver.

Now he’s bought an e-scooter.  Seeing without a windshield the community he helps shape.

 

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As you’ve probably noticed, residents all over Metro Vancouver are e-scooting on the streets despite the presence of prohibitory bylaws. Accordingly, some recognition is long overdue – and here it is: Shared Micromobility Guidelines.

Published in July by TransLink in collaboration with Metro Vancouver, the document is not designed to recommend the adoption of specific bylaws or policies but to inform municipalities of the relevant considerations for permitting shared micromobility devices within their jurisdictions.

The guidelines focus on six areas:

  1. The collection and sharing of Data to measure success.
  2. Payments and Price Structures that are financially sustainable and adaptable for integrated and secure payments.
  3. System Planning and Design for a fair balance between innovation and public interests.
  4. Right-Of-Way (ROW) Management to identify and manage risks.
  5. System Operations to ensure service providers are held accountable and have an appropriate level of risk management.
  6. Permit Structure and Conditions for short-term and long-term permit structures.

Few would disagree that these guidelines are a sign of progress.  But they stand to have little impact if provincial and municipal regulations and bylaws aren’t amended to permit the operation of these technologies.

For example, so long as the City of Vancouver continues to prohibit the use of e-scooters along trails and paths (the only place they legally can operate under the provincial Motor Vehicle Act), guidelines for shared micromobility services are virtually meaningless.

So, while I commend the creation of these guidelines, I eagerly await amendments to city bylaws, the provincial Motor Vehicle Act, and the new BC Active Transportation Design Guidelines.

You can buy one, you just can’t use it.

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… or at least Italy, from where John Graham reports:

In the south of Italy – here in Sorrento at the end of the Amalfi coast – the e-bike with fat tires is taking over. And not by the mountain-biker demographic, as you can see from the front basket and rear child seat.

This bike on the main pedestrian shopping street is their version of the mini SUV. The fat tires are for the rough and variable cobblestones.

The rider was a woman in her 40’s who got off and went into the cosmetic shop behind.

 

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