Undoubtedly a ubiquitous inconvenience, the drag of leaving one’s house to either take public transport or drive into a city to get to work is still just that: an inconvenience. This was Danish architect Jonas Eliasson’s thought when he began formulating his transportation device, the Me-Mover.
Back in 1998 he began imagining ways to mitigate the annoying shlep he had to make to get from his home some miles out to the city center of Stockholm. Now he resides in Copenhagen, and has finally built a workable prototype for a transportation device that he believes is simpler and more versatile than a bike.
It took nearly five years to create this current prototype he’s proffering to the masses. And after less than a week of being on Kickstarter, Eliasson’s Me-Mover has already surpassed its $100,000 goal.
The Me-Mover is a hybrid between a Razor Scooter, a Segway, and a foldable bike — yet somehow it doesn’t look like some monstrosity only Steve Urkel would ride. Where bikes rely on a constant peddling motion to be propelled, Me-Mover gets its power from “stepping” — almost akin to a Stairmaster. Eliasson explained to me that he wanted something that was fun, could be used nearly anywhere, and was “extremely compact and light.”
The Me-Mover’s main draw is its small frame and malleability in terms of speed. According to Eliasson it can go anywhere from a brisk walking pace to a biker’s speed (a brisk40 kilometers per hour). Additionally people can idly stand on it without having to balance or rest on one leg.
It also isn’t the only new device claiming to iterate on bike-like designs. Some months back I wrote about the Copenhagen Wheel, an MIT-created electric rear bike wheel that learns when and when not to give bikers an extra push.
Eliasson’s concept is slightly different, because it’s trying to fill a void where bikes just don’t work. For instance, let’s say you’re trying to get through a busy street that is filled with pedestrians. On a bike, you’re not only an annoyance, you’re breaking the law. This is why some adults (that is, grown-ass humans) have taken to using Razor Scooters on the sidewalks in midtown Manhattan. (This trend has also led me to question why I live in a city where it’s acceptable for adults to use child scooters as a mode of transport.)
The Me-Mover is smaller, can go slower than bikes, and in theory would be less obtrusive. It would also hopefully be less embarrassing than a scooter — although it does oddly resemble a Segway so its cultural cool factor has yet to be determined.
At about $900 a pop, Eliasson truly believes his invention will take off. The first run of 50 vehicles advertised on Kickstarter ran out within days of the launch. Additionally, Denmark only makes up about 25 percent of the project’s funders — the rest are from places like the US, Australia, and even Hong Kong.
As for European cities like Copenhagen where streets are old and narrow, I see a potential for smaller devices like Eliasson’s. New York, however, could be another problem. The vast city is largely made up of hard-to-navigate sidewalks and scary New York drivers who will have no qualms about hitting weirdos atop a strange moveable device. I can only imagine the disdain an old Manhattanite would have for someone cruising on such a device.
But if Me-Mover gets increased road time in numerous cities worldwide, that seems like a success for Eliasson. New York be damned; if this thing gets popular, that just means it’s time for me to move to Scandinavia.