Weird Skateboards Are the Answer to the "Last-Mile" Problem


What does an egg-shaped skateboard have to do with the future of transportation? That isn’t a joke waiting for a punchline — it’s a question that becomes more important as people flock to cities, rely on mass transit, and wonder how to reach their destination from the bus stop. Elos and its platter-sized skateboard might be the answer we need.

Elos first designed its skateboard in 2006. The goal: A skateboard that people can easily learn to ride, carry with them, and find if it’s lost. If it catches on — and the Kickstarter project to manufacture the board suggests that it will — this weird product could help city dwellers solve one of the most vexing problems with the future of mass transit.

Experts call it the “first-last-mile problem.” Most people call it the obvious question of how likely someone is to use public transportation if it means they have to walk a mile to and from the main hubs. Few people want to spend an hour walking to a bus stop or from a subway station every time they want to take a trip to another part of the city.

It doesn’t matter if a city decides to adopt futuristic subways or trains — the last-mile problem looms high over efforts to modernize public transit.

Some companies are trying to tackle this problem with self-driving buses that ferry people to larger transportation hubs. But what if everyone could ride a skateboard instead? Wouldn’t that be cheaper, easier, and make the daily commute even more convenient?

That’s why cities like Denver, Vancouver, and Stockholm, all of which have plans to reduce the number of cars on their streets, should embrace upcoming last-mile solutions like Elos.

And people do want to ditch their cars: Data from Santa Barbara shows that between 2013 and 2014 more people started to walk, work at home, take public transit, or ride a bike to work. Something like Elos could help boost those numbers and bring down the amount of people driving alone.

Inverse reached out to Elos to learn more about its skateboard and will update this post if we hear back. The company has raised $70,000 and counting on Kickstarter to make its skateboards a reality. Now we’ll just have to see if it’s really the last-mile solution it has the potential to become.