If she needs to carry something heavy home in her Paris neighborhood, Alix Armour doesn't drive. She just straps everything—even a Christmas tree during the holidays—to her kick scooter. Unlike most scooters, it has a cargo rack.
On a recent trip to Berlin, she used the scooter instead of taking a taxi or struggling to run to the station with luggage. "From my apartment, I'll put my suitcase on the front cargo rack, then scoot down to the train station, put my suitcase on the train rack, fold up the scooter, put that on the train rack, there you go," she says. "The conductors love it."
Twenty-nine-year-old Armour is the CEO of Nimble Scooters, a startup that just released an urban version designed for cities (it also makes an industrial version for scooting around warehouses and distribution centers). The rack on the front can hold up to 300 pounds. "That's like two big cases of beer, or more," she says. "I even lent it to a friend to carry a piece of furniture."
Unlike a cargo bike, which is suited for longer distances, Armour thinks a scooter is ideal for running errands in a crowded city neighborhood. "Cargo bicycles take up a lot of space," she says. "You actually have cargo bicycles stuck in traffic—the whole point is to use that instead of a car, but they get stuck in traffic. It's heavy, and you need space to store it." The scooter, she says, is cheaper, compact enough to fold up neatly in an apartment closet, and can still carry basically anything you'd need in daily life.
The scooter is manufactured in California, where Armour studied product design and first began working on the project. It's made from steel, unlike the flimsier aluminum scooters popular with four-year-olds. It also has a heavy center of gravity, so it's easier to ride. "It feels a lot more stable," she says. "People who don't have much experience can just hop on."
It's also part of what Armour sees as the transportation version of slow food—a way to travel around your neighborhood and notice what's there. "It's a human speed," she says. "You can use your five senses; you can smell what's baking in the bakery, you can stop and talk to friends. If you're on a bicycle or in a car you might just wave. On a kick scooter, you take more time. You give yourself the opportunity to get to know your neighborhood better, meet your neighbors . . . to just stop and look around you and see what's really happening. The kick scooter can help you do that."
The Nimble Urban Scooter is now crowdfunding on Indiegogo.