3 Options for Electric Scooter Navigation
The major increase in electric scooter usage in recent years has naturally given rise to a lot of discussion about the safety of the vehicles. Much of this discussion is relatively straightforward. For instance, it’s a given that it’s more responsible to ride with a helmet than without one, as well as that riding too fast makes things more dangerous. But there are also some safety issues that are less easily defined or addressed, such as the challenge of navigating cities and avoiding obstacles.
Addressing electric scooter safety issues such as these, one article suggested the simple solution of planning ahead — such as by knowing the regulations in a given city, wearing reflective clothing, and so on. To expand on this idea though, another crucial aspect of preparation for regular scooter usage is setting up navigation.
Navigation in a car is just about second nature for most people. These days a lot of cars have built-in navigation displays, and when that isn’t the case most of us find relatively safe ways to prop up our phones with map apps open. Many of us, if we’re being honest, will also hold our phones, or listen to audio directions. But on a scooter these options aren’t as readily available. Holding a phone is entirely unsafe, and the audio option isn’t great either as you’d need headphones to hear and you’ll be sacrificing some awareness of your surroundings.
The solution to all of this is to plan ahead. And to that point, there are four main, feasible options for navigation.
1. Buy GPS
The best GPS systems on the market can be a little bit expensive, but they’re still every bit as capable as in-car systems or mobile apps. They’re just not quite as fashionable as they used to be because these alternatives are often so much more convenient.
That said, GPS systems are often made to be mounted in a variety of different ways, which means you should have no trouble finding one you can attach to your scooter where you’re able to take a quick, safe glance at it now and then. It’s not a perfect option, but really it should be as safe as using your phone or GPS in a car. It just might run you between $100 and $200, if you want a reputable, reliable device.
2. Make a GPS
If the GPS idea appeals to you but it’s a little expensive for your taste — or you just happen to be more of a DIYer at heart — you can also make this kind of navigation device. The process of building a navigation system via Arduino (a sort of circuit board design platform meant to simplify projects) is actually one you can find outlines and demos for online. This means you don’t necessarily have to be an experienced engineer in order to piece together a functioning GPS with a display screen — potentially for a fraction of the cost of buying one.
Arduino isn’t the only option you have either, though it is the simplest. Anyone with an interest also has access to PCB design systems online, whereby more complex printed circuit boards can be designed and fabricated. The benefit of choosing this route would essentially be greater capability — say, for mapping a wider area, or mapping it in more detail. That said, designing your own circuit board for a DIY GPS is going to be more complex as well.
Ultimately your chosen method depends on how much time and effort you want to put in, and how capable you need your GPS to be. But for straightforward navigation at an affordable price, the DIY approach in general is worth considering.
3. Mount Your Phone
The simplest solution may ultimately be to mount your phone — which is one reason phone holders were mentioned in our look at the best electric scooter accessories you can buy.
The main idea of the phone holder as discussed previously is safety. If you have a mount for your phone you’ll be less tempted to hold or use it while riding, but it will still be as accessible as possible n the event of an emergency. But with the right mount, you can also enjoy what is effectively a different version of a GPS device. Having your phone screen visible with a map application loaded up makes it easy to check your direction at stops, or glance briefly at next steps as you approach a turn.
4. AR Glasses
Okay, so AR glasses aren’t quite an option yet as of this writing. But we’re including them nonetheless because in time they’ll likely be the safest options for e-scooter navigation. Every expectation is that AR glasses will use the technology that exists in map apps in such a way that people no longer need to take their eyes off the road, even for a moment. In theory, you’ll be wearing glasses, riding along, and able to see directions faintly but visibly right before your eyes. It will be a near-perfect solution.
Each of these options is suitable for scooter activity. As you assess them for yourself though, be mindful of your own habits and tendencies above all else. Safety is most important, and choosing an option that you’re confident you’ll use responsibly is best.