A successful study abroad program means going overseas, learning from the locals, and bringing the lessons back home. We've been all over the world in search of the latest in transportation tech and we saw some things that might be beneficial here is the States. Let's take a look at a few of these worldly ideas and see if any lessons could be applied back home. YikeBike - United Kingdom

The YikeBike is a personal scooter-like transporter powered by a small electric motor. It can fold up neatly after taking you on your short trip from home to the nearest train/bus station. The idea isn't to make your full commute on your YikeBike, rather to use it to fill in the spots between public transit destinations.

For the YikeBike to be useful, you basically need two things: a robust public transit system and fairly nice weather. In the U.S., we imagine the YikeBike working well in cities like San Francisco or Austin, where the weather is great year round and the public transit options are plentiful; however, in places like New York, winters could be a little rough.

Tokyo Trains - Japan

While it's tough to rival Tokyo's world-class train system, one of the best uses of trains in the U.S. is Chicago. The 'El', or elevated train, is one of Chicago's greatest assets for moving large amounts of denizens and tourists around some of the city's densest areas. Add the subways, metra and Amtrak lines, and you have one of the most robust train networks in the country. Proper planning started early with the first operating train in 1892. Since then the city has benefitted from the clever network that looks like a wagon wheel spoke and come in to the heart (Loop).

One major city that could benefit from such a train system is LA. Long known for terrible traffic and public transit, the city has tried for years to ease transit. As traffic has been getting better, it's still hard for travelers to get around the city without a car. There are bus systems but only Santa Monica has a Bus Rapid Transit system. With a more extensive network of lines, elevated or underground, LA could reinvent itself. Instead of smog, largely created from automobiles, the city can get back to looking at beautiful vistas through clear, clean air.

Rinspeed (Presto) - Switzerland


While the Rinspeed Presto is a very unique--if a bit unrealistic--concept, that doesn't mean it couldn't offer value somewhere. The Presto would be best used in places where there is a ton of traffic and very scarce parking. We're thinking New York here. With the Presto you can fit four people in a car then collapse it to a two-seater once you've reached a destination. With the chassis shrunk down, you'd be better able to fit into those tough New York parking spots, hopefully without hitting any bumpers.

The flexibility of Presto means that your car is never bigger than it needs to be. When it's just one commuter in the car you gain the advantage of being smaller and more mobile. We can only imagine the possibilities for weaving around dense traffic.

Better Place - Japan


Better Place, the global Israeli-American company (who we visited in Japan) is known for battery swapping stations that could alleviate charging times and range anxiety. Instead of waiting for an electric car to be charged, you simply pull up to a station where an automated machine swaps out the depleted battery for a newly charged one. An excellent idea today, however as battery technology improves to allow faster charge times and greater range, will Better Place's technology be needed? Some say 'yes' because battery tech hasn't taken the leaps we'd hoped in the past few years, but it will be tough to change our re-fueling infrastructure without knowing for sure.

Paris Vélib, Autolib' - France


France's Autolib' is very similar to Zipcar and Car2go: car-sharing networks that enable you to pick up a car when you need it, and return it when you don't. We'd say that Autolib' is most simliar to Car2go because you don't have to return the car to the same place, like Zipcar. Also, many of the cars are parked on the street vesus Zipcar, where they're normally in parking lots. In San Diego, all Car2gos are electric Smart cars and can get around most of the city.

Paris Vélib would also work very well in San Diego. Imagine getting off the Amtrak down from LA and being able to grab a bike for the day right at the train station. You can bike into town and do what you need then spend the rest of the day riding along the beach in time for a spectacular west coast sunset. Who said the Europeans have all the good stuff?

Share This Photo X