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Use of personal mobility devices for first-and-last mile travel: The Macquarie-Ryde trial

Dowling, R, Irwin, J, Faulks, I, Howitt, R (Peer reviewed)

Vehicle Design & Testing

ARSC conference 2015

Electric-motored personal mobility devices (PMDs) are appearing on Australian roads. While legal to import and own, their use is typically illegal for adult riders within the road transport system. However, these devices could provide an answer to traffic congestion by getting people out of cars for short trips ("first-and-last mile" travel). City of Ryde council, Macquarie University, and Transport for NSW examined PMD use within the road transport system. Stage 1 of the project examined PMD use within a controlled pedestrian environment on the Macquarie University campus. Three PMD categories were used: one-wheelers (an electric unicycle, the Solowheel); two-wheelers (an electric scooter, the Egret); and three-wheelers (the Qugo). The two-wheeled PMD was most effective in terms of flexibility. In contrast, the three-wheeled PMD was most effective in terms of speed. One-wheeled PMD riders were very satisfied with their device, especially at speed, but significant training and practice was required. Two-wheeled PMD riders had less difficulty navigating through pedestrian precincts and favoured the manoeuvrability of the device as the relative narrowness of the two-wheeled PMD made it easier to use on a diversity of path widths. The usability of all PMDs was compromised by the weight of the devices, difficulties in ascending steeper gradients, portability, and parking. This was a limited trial, with a small number of participants and within a unique environment. However, agreement has been reached for a Stage 2 extension into the Macquarie Park business precinct for further real-world trials within a fully functional road transport system.