Last mile rides refer to the short-distance transportation options that help commuters complete the final leg of their journeys, connecting them from public transportation hubs to their ultimate destinations.
This term is more applicable to supply chain management, where transit agencies service last mile delivery to consumers via a variety of transportation options.
This term, however, is seeing increasing usage in consumer travel as well. Transit access can be tricky, especially when an existing transit network is not designed to service various suburban neighbourhoods.
Last mile rides are becoming increasingly crucial in addressing urban mobility challenges, reducing traffic congestion, and promoting sustainable transportation.
Types of Last Mile Rides
Transit users generally follow a fixed route in their journeys. Most last mile rides have to be complimentary to the consumer — with a wide range of factors dictating what the last mile ride should be.
For many in Singapore, buses are still the ‘ultimate’ choice due to their accessibility (and air-conditioning). However, consumers now have a variety of options due to the ingenuity of manufacturers:
Electric scooters are compact, lightweight, and easy to ride, making them an excellent option for short-distance commuting. They’re battery-powered, requiring minimal physical effort, and can often be folded for easy storage.
Foldable bicycles Singapore offer the flexibility of traditional cycling with the added convenience of portability. They can be quickly and easily folded into a compact size, making them a popular choice for multi-modal commuting.
Electric bikes, or e-bikes, combine the benefits of traditional bicycles with the assistance of an electric motor, providing a boost of power to make cycling more accessible for a wider range of riders.
Shared bikes, available through bike-sharing programs, provide an affordable and convenient option for short-distance travel. Users can rent bikes from designated stations and return them to any other station within the network.
Segways are self-balancing, two-wheeled personal transporters that offer a unique and fun way to cover short distances. They are controlled by the rider’s body movements and provide a smooth and stable ride.
Hoverboards, or self-balancing scooters, are compact devices that operate on a similar principle as Segways, with riders standing on a platform between two wheels and controlling the device by shifting their weight.
Benefits of Using Your Own Last Mile Ride
Reducing traffic congestion
By offering an alternative to personal vehicle use, last mile rides can help alleviate traffic congestion in urban areas, making cities more efficient and enjoyable for everyone. Individual riders will also have the ‘freedom of a vehicle’, rather than being constrained by public transit.
Improving air quality
Last mile rides, particularly electric and human-powered options, produce minimal emissions, contributing to cleaner air and a healthier environment.
Encouraging active lifestyles
Many last mile ride options, such as bicycles and e-scooters, promote physical activity and help users incorporate exercise into their daily routines.
Enhancing accessibility to public transport
By bridging the gap between public transportation hubs and final destinations, last mile rides make it easier for people to access and utilise public transit options. Most foldable bikes can be brought onto public transit.
Reducing travel time
Last mile rides can often provide a faster and more direct route to a destination compared to walking or waiting for public transportation.
Challenges and Drawbacks
The rapid proliferation of last mile rides has raised concerns about rider safety, particularly in areas with limited or poorly maintained infrastructure.
Infrastructure and regulations
In many cities, existing infrastructure and regulations may not be adequate to accommodate the growing demand for last mile rides, leading to conflicts with pedestrians and other road users.
Maintenance and theft issues
Shared last mile ride options can face challenges related to maintenance, vandalism, and theft, impacting the long-term sustainability and success of these programs.
Limited range and battery life
Electric last mile rides can be limited by their battery life and range, necessitating frequent charging and potentially restricting their usefulness in certain situations.
Best Practices for Last Mile Rides
Safe riding habits
Riders should practice safe riding habits, such as wearing a helmet, using lights at night, and following traffic rules.
Proper parking etiquette
When parking last mile rides, users should ensure they do not obstruct pedestrian walkways, access ramps, or other important areas, making sure to follow local guidelines and designated parking zones.
Regular maintenance and care
Owners of personal last mile ride devices should perform regular maintenance and inspections to ensure their devices are in good working condition and safe to use.
Abiding by local regulations
Riders should familiarise themselves with and adhere to local regulations governing the use of last mile rides, including speed limits, designated riding areas, and equipment requirements.
Future of Last Mile Rides
Innovations in battery technology, materials, and design will continue to drive the development of new and improved last mile ride options, offering increased range, faster charging, and enhanced performance.
As the demand for seamless urban mobility grows, we can expect to see greater integration of last mile rides with public transportation systems, making it even more convenient for users to move seamlessly between modes of transport.
The success of bike and scooter sharing programs will likely lead to continued expansion and refinement of these networks, providing more options and greater accessibility for users in urban areas.
As cities recognise the importance of last mile rides in promoting sustainable transportation, we can expect to see increased investment in dedicated infrastructure, such as bike lanes and scooter parking zones, to support the safe and efficient use of these devices.
Several constituencies are introducing cycling lanes to their respective neighbourhoods. We foresee cycling becoming a more common trope among Singaporeans in the future.
All In All
By embracing and supporting these sustainable and efficient modes of transportation, cities can improve the quality of life for their residents and create more livable, connected communities.