Sunday, May 10, 2009

PUMA Needs Exclusive Lane

I am sure you have heard about the GM and Segway joint venture called Project PUMA (Personal Urban Mobility and Accessibility). Just this weekend I read an interesting article titled Will GM Design Your Next Car? In this article Parade Magazine interviews Larry Burns, head of R&D for GM, and asks some great questions about the future of mobility. Larry hits on many key points supporting a shift towards smaller vehicles, including the PUMA high-tech electric scooter. Most notably, he points out that sustainable transportation is about more than petroleum and global climate change, its also about congestion and safety - which, coincidentally, are the two underlying reasons for developing motorcycle infrastructure.

So, Larry, GM, and Segway, I would like to make a suggestion. If you really want to design the vehicles of the future you also need to help with the infrastructure of the future. PUMA will not be successful if you are asking customers to drive in in mixed traffic alongside SUVs - its too dangerous (according to the NHTSA, you are 35 times more likely to die, per vehicle mile traveled, on a scooter or motorcycle than you are in a passenger car). We need to develop priority lanes for new innovative electric scooters like the PUMA that can be shared with bicycle commuters and other vulnerable road users.

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