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Segway in EasyConnect II Inter-modal Commuting Test in San Francisco Area

Easyconnect_pth0707
Bay Area commuter on a Segway.

Segway is participating in a new alternative transportation program called EasyConnect II, a field test designed and coordinated by University of California, Berkeley’s Institute of Transportation Studies and the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans), to save fuel, reduce emissions, traffic and parking congestion in the San Francisco Bay Area.

The EasyConnect II program offers commuters who ride the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) or ride-share to the Pleasant Hill Bay BART station the opportunity to utilize a range of shared-use, low-speed vehicles, including one of ten Segway Human Transporters (HT) free-of-charge for the last few miles of their commute to the office.

For the evening commute, participants ride the shared-use vehicles back to the station where the units are stored in electronic lockers overnight. Participants can use the vehicles as they wish during the day for travel to lunch or on errands.

This is the first time Segway HTs will be used in an inter-modal public transit system in the US. Since December 2004, 16 Segway HTs have been in use by the City of Lille, France to connect commuters between remote parking areas, the train station and other locations in the city out of the new “Station Oxygène.”

When we began development of the Segway HT, we envisioned it as an essential part of the transportation continuum—a link that would transport people for the first and last miles of their daily trips. This field test is the embodiment of that vision.

—Dean Kamen, the chairman and founder of Segway

The Segway HT is a self-balancing electric personal transportation platform. Two 1.88 kW motors turn each of the two wheels independently, and at variable speeds if necessary. The neodymium-iron-boron motors are constructed with two independent sets of windings, each driven by a separate board and motor. Under normal conditions, both sets of windings work in parallel, sharing the load.

Twin Li-ion battery packs provide power for a range of 15-24 miles at a top speed of 12.5 mph.

The purpose of EasyConnect II is to provide insight into whether the introduction and integration of innovative technologies at Transit-Oriented Development (TOD) sites can significantly increase transit access and use.

A TOD is essentially an aggregation of commercial, retail, and residential developments around a transit facility.

While a range of configurations and definitions are found in the literature, there is general consensus among transit professionals as to what constitutes a TOD: “a pattern of dense, diverse, pedestrian-friendly land uses near transit nodes that, under the right conditions, translates into higher patronage.”

—EasyConnect II paper (below)

The components of the EasyConnect II trial include:

  • Shared-use low-speed modes vehicles, including electric bicycles and non-motorized bicycles in addition to the Segway HTs, available for commuting from the BART station to area businesses.

  • Electronic lockers (“eLockers”) at the station and nearby businesses that are a unique physical and technology design solution to the problem of low-speed mode access to traditional transit.

  • Smart parking technology to provide cost-effective and space-efficient solutions to parking at the TOD site.

  • A web-based information system that allows users to reserve, pay, and access travel information, moving seamlessly across a range of available modal options and transportation services.

  • Innovative distributed power generation technologies to help meet growing electrical loads associated with the introduction of advanced electronic transportation and information technology systems. The research team is planning on the use of a hydrogen fuel cell for this.

Resources:

Comments

t

Isn't this nation fat enough? How about walking?

Ritch


yeah, or normal old pedal powered bike!!!

Joseph Willemssen

That's fantastic.

wintermane

Im about 400lb and I walk when I go short distances like to the local park. It always amazes me people driving to go just 1000 feet. Mind you around here I do understand much of the time it simply is icky weather wise to walk.

Joe Thompson

Talk about complicating your life when you can just walk.

Rafael Seidl

The Segway HTs strike me as overkill for the purpose of getting drivers to choose commute alternatives. Also, are these devices really powerful enough to climb and descend the steep hills of the Bay Area with e.g. a 300lb load?

Here in Vienna (Austria) we have something called CityBike. Near all the major railway and subway stations, there are special stalls for special bicycles equipped with tracking devices. You buy a membership card for EUR 1 with which you can unlock any CityBike and use it. The first hour is free of charge, after that there are progressive fees that are automatically debited to your bank account. If you damage the bike or fail to return it to a CityBike stall, there's a stiff penalty. Special rates apply for tourists without local bank accounts. The system has proved successful and is being expanded.

http://www.citybikewien.at/

Click on the "English" button if you don't speak German.
Of course, a CityBike concept only works in a city with sufficient building density, well-developed public transportation systems and space for parking the bikes nearby. This applies in many European cities, much less so in North America.

Another option is to take along a (folding) bicycle in the train. You can also choose to commute with an electric and/or covered bicycle to avoid working up too much of a sweat on the way to the office (as opposed to the way home)

http://www.electric-bikes.com/
http://www.aerorider.com/index.php?lang=en

These options are expensive compared to regular bikes but much cheaper than an extra car. They also let you exercise as you commute and drastically reduce your fuel bills/CO2 footprint.

Joep Fruman

Agree,

citybike is the way to go. Good for your health , zero emission, no power source needed except for yourself and way cheaper than a Segway. It would dare to say; the Segway is sort of the American way...

hampden wireless

The Segway was built for America without an American price. At $3000 its just to expensive. Except for being cool and reducing needed rider skill it does not do much more then a gas powered skateboard would at 1/6 the price.

wintermane

Actauly the issue is one of scale. Because american cities are very young and were mostly built after the car came about they are much larger. Instead of dealing with a compact city and a few mass transit lines your dealing WITHOUT the funds needed for those lines and about 40x the space to cover. Your also dealing with about 10x less time that the city has had to build up infrastructure.

So the designers of multi modal mass transit have to deal with gaps far larger then in europe. Gaps too large for a operson to walk or ride a bike across.

In the end the ONLY option is prt. You use conventional mass transit between cities and use prt within them. But some nitwits are blocking prt so ecpect that to take a few more decades.

Icelander

Gaps too large for a bike? The maximum Segway speed is 12 miles per hour. I can do that on my bike easily. I think the real issue is American's obsession with personal scent. They don't want to get sweaty for fear of smelling bad. When I tell my coworkers I'm riding my bike to work, that's the first thought that comes into their head.

t

Well,at least we all agree. The sedgway is a solution in search of a problem. This is technology run amuk. Why, our President can't even ride one without falling down.

JMartin

Wintermane:

I am with you. We need PRT, but not one is willing to invest, yet. I expect to see it in India or China long before being adopted in the U.S. However, a CityBike or Segway could be useful if we built infrastructure to accomodate them, or trained drivers not to run over them. In the State, IMHO it is simply too risky for most people to ride a bike on our streets or roads.

wintermane

I didnt say it was a food idea I would wride a segway after all im just saying its a distance they dont expect most americans will cross sans car. Concoidering I know people who cant go 1000 feet without a car I think they are very right.

Rafael Seidl

JMartin -

a few (ok, very few) municipalities in the US have bike lines, others signposted bike routes that guide cyclists away from major thoroughfares.

As for traffic safety, a good place to start would be tying vehicle insurance rates to the completion of an official drivers' ed class on pedestrian & cyclist safety. Such a class could be made mandatory for those applying for their driver's license for the first time. Fwiw, my personal experience on the West Coast was that Americans and Canadians anyhow drive far less aggressively than Europeans do.

Cyclists could be required to wear helmets and mount reflectors (all directions) plus lighting on their bikes. MTB outfitters would have to figure out appropriately ruggedized solutions. For those who never rode a bike before, or who have not done so in a long time, the DMV could offer a class and training area (for a fee).

In addition, carmakers could be required to provide greater low-speed frontal crash safety for pedestrians and cyclists. This is already the case in Europe.

In sum, the traffic safety argument is a red herring when it comes to bicycles. If you want to get results, you have to be prepared to take calculated risks.

Joseph Willemssen

I really wonder why people keep bringing up bikes. Do you think that people are unaware that bikes exist? That the technology hasn't had enough time to be exposed to the public as an option?

In reality, any distance greater than a 5 minute walk (about 3 blocks) is considered "too far" by most Americans and they just use their car, then. The average person spends a huge portion of their income on their car, most of which is sunk costs (ie, depreciation and insurance). So the less one uses one's car, the more expensive its marginal use becomes.

The reason transit fails in this country is trip speed. Unless you live directly on or very near an express route that goes very close or directly to your destination, then transit, for most Americans, is a huge time suck. Solving the last mile problem with feeder electric vehicles (and the Segway is relatively low-cost compared to NEV alternatives like GEM cars) would allow for the development of more widespread high-speed transit. As it stands, most transit is buses with stops every 2 blocks, since the "feeder system" is walking. NEVs allow for much greater distances between transit stops, and hence, faster travel times. In the end, too, it will allow for far more express routes in number, to help move away from the hub-and-spoke type of system design which tends to predominate now.

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