The other day, I was waiting for my wife to arrive home from a shopping trip. She had our infant daughter with her, lying comfortably in the bicycle trailer. A ton of groceries were stored in the saddlebags hanging from the bike. In total, she carried and pulled around 35 kilograms with her electric bike without breaking into a sweat. With her bike and this setup, she hops from one store to the other, using the shops downtown instead of driving to the shopping malls on the outskirts of the city by car.
As I was waiting for her, I looked at the “find my” app and realized that she was still at the stores, so I contacted her via the Apple Walkie-Talkie app to ask if I should pick up our son from Kindergarten or wait for her. Using her Apple watch, she told me it wouldn’t take long.
Using the time and cleaning the kitchen, I watched her position on my phone. Suddenly I realized the indicator didn’t move anymore and stopped at a roundabout. I watched a minute, it didn’t move. As I was just about to contact her with the Walkie-Talkie app again to ask if everything is alright, she continued moving.
In fact, she had an accident, crashing to the ground. Thanks to the trailer, which stayed upright, the baby was safe. Luckily, the fall ended on the arms without endangering the head. The Hövding helmet activated and covered the head on top, both sides and the back, including the neck, in a pillow-like airbag. While recovering from the crash, my wife noticed her Apple Watch displayed an emergency message, asking her if everything was alright because the device detected the crash. Not reacting to this message would have caused an automatic call directly to the medical emergency service. My wife canceled that call because she was alright.
As she arrived home safely, I realized how different today’s bike-riding is from using a bicycle a couple of years ago. Bikes aren’t just a steel frame and some rubber any more. We are navigating and communicating via satellites, using more computing power on our wrists than was used to send a rocket to the moon. We use the strongest engines to propel us forward, leveraging one of the highest energy densities available to humankind via modern batteries. High-tech materials don’t just keep us warm and dry so that we can drive in heavy rain, they also protect us in emergencies.
For me, all of this is the new transportation solution the world needs. This little story doesn’t factor in folding bikes in combination with trains and buses, cargo bikes and heavy-duty trailers with electric motors and what else is to come. For a majority of use cases, we already have everything we need to make a huge positive difference to the climate, people’s health and better cities.
I’ll go ride my bike …