I’d like to better define the often-used term of “smart” mobility. What makes it “smart” mobility? What does it do that goes beyond? In my perspective, it can be summarized in three traits: smart mobility is resourceful, revitalizing, and enjoyable. Combined, they create the drive for Bosch, and numerous other innovators, to create solutions for today’s city dwellers that go beyond “the drive.”
Resourcefulness in mobility is capitalizing on today’s infrastructure with tomorrow’s technology and bridging distances that we otherwise thought impossible. Driverless cars are a ready example of utilizing today’s roads more efficiently, and they’re rapidly becoming a reality for our cities and countries ready to embrace fundamental change in the way we conceive mobility. With their long-lasting batteries and powerful assistance, eBikes elevate the practicality and feasibility of cycling for commutes – combining the cruising speeds needed for timely travel with the comfort of an electric tailwind, helping commuters reach the office while keeping the sweat to a minimum.
Revitalizing transportation is healthy for the body and mind. Whether it’s by creating relaxation through exercise or by enjoying a peaceful commute over the stress of automotive rush hour gridlock, “smart” mobility is energizing and truly “invented for life.” Bicycles are, of course, a natural example of this trait. Whether electric or non-electric, bike share programs are springing up in cities throughout the world. The convenience and cost savings they offer for willing cyclists is undeniable. Bike share programs make it easier than ever to trade the passivity of being a passenger in an automobile for an environmentally-friendly, empowering mode of transportation.
Pedal-assist eBikes preserve all the physical and mental health benefits of cycling, but make the benefits of cycling more easily accessible by anyone. Wait – don’t people say that eBikes are “cheating” because a motor is helping you do some of the work? It’s actually the other way around – it’s enabling more people than ever to jump on a bike, many with the intention of eBiking for exercise. A recent Portland State University study found that among surveyed eBike owners, the top five reasons for owning an eBike included replacing car trips, recreation, and increasing fitness levels.
Enjoyable mobility means that our future transportation needs to be satisfying to use or to share in. I’d like to challenge readers to find ways to make transportation more fun. Several members of my team in Irvine, California commute by eBike, sometimes combined with public transportation. A shared commute experience, either with co-workers or with new acquaintances formed on public transit, adds joy through comradery, yet another way that “smart” mobility can stimulate our mental health. Cycling naturally is social and leaves you feeling refreshed. And what better way to make cycling more popular than by making it more fun – with better places to ride, and new technology to open cycling up for all?
So how will we explore our cities in the future? One only needs to look at the agility of Germany and its rapid adoption of repurposed roads, rails, and dedicated “eBike expressways” to see a glimpse of the possibilities for America. In the Netherlands, one in every 3 bikes sold is electric. Much of Europe and other countries around the world are moving in the same direction. Is electricity a suitable addition to the bicycle, often considered to be the ultimate means of human-powered transportation and celebrated for its elegance and efficiency? As a lifelong cyclist, I can think of no more exciting innovation for solving the challenges of connecting people and places in an equally elegant and highly efficient manner.
Claudia Wasko, President, Bosch eBike Systems Americas
Claudia Wasko is the leader of Bosch eBike Systems Americas, a business unit of Robert Bosch LLC based in Irvine, CA. In 2009 she was the co-founder of the business unit Bosch eBike Systems in Germany.