Alternative Means of Transport Gain Popularity in Lviv

12 Feb, 2021

The toughest thing about living in any big city is probably the commute: constant traffic jams, overcrowded transport, huge distances, etc. Luckily, in the last few years, alternative means of transport are gaining more and more popularity: electric scooters, e-cars, monowheels, hyroboards, and whatnot. In this issue, we talked to five tech professionals who work in Lviv and choose greener transport to move around the city.

Viсtor Katolyk
Delivery Manager Professional Services, N-iX

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My one and only favorite means of personal transport is a monowheel (also referred to as EUC Electric Unicycle). Whenever possible, I use it to commute to work. I also actively use it on weekends for fun trips together with my 7-year-old daughter.

I have been riding a monowheel for 2.5 years. I started with an old model Inmotion V5, but just 2 months later I wanted something faster and more powerful and upgraded to Inmotion V8. I kept the old V5 for my daughter.

The main reason I chose EUC is convenience and independence. Compared to public transportation, you don’t have to wait for a bus and you don’t depend on existing routes you can go wherever you want. Compared to a car, you avoid traffic jams and don’t have any problems with parking. Moreover, you don’t need to fuel your tank. Compared to a bicycle, you can take a monowheel inside a building, put it in the trunk of your car, or take it with you on the train it’s very compact. Compared to an electric scooter, it has a much bigger wheel and is less sensitive to bumps and uneven surfaces. Plus your hands are free you can ride in pairs, holding hands, as I do with my daughter! Also, it’s probably the most maneuverable kind of transport. The only recurring cost is the electricity to charge the vehicle. Which is next to nothing.

Since starting to use the monowheel, I got a great fun activity I can do with my daughter. If you think about it, it’s not that easy to find an activity that can be equally enjoyable both for children and grownups!

On the other hand, I heavily depend on the weather. When it’s raining or snowing, I leave my wheel at home and walk or take a bus. Also, it’s unsuitable for intercity travel. When I travel to other cities, I take a car, but I put the monowheel in the trunk of the car. Also, I have to use the car when I need to take my daughter to school or when I need to deliver heavy or bulky things.

If you’re thinking of trying an alternative type of transport and are considering a monowheel, my advice would be go for it! It’s by far the best alternative among eco transport options. It takes some effort to learn there are many tips on Youtube that can teach you how to ride. If you have someone who can support you while you learn to ride, it would be a great benefit. Use protection for knees and wrists. You probably don’t need a helmet.

I think that alternative lightweight means of transport are critical in compact cities. For example, in Lviv streets are often so clogged that in rush hours it can take ages to get from one point to another, be it a car, a bus or a tram.

The local administration in Lviv is actively improving roads and pavements, creates bicycle lanes. In the central part of the city, the infrastructure is already very good, and if you know your way around, you can easily find smooth paths with many bicycle lanes, good pavements, and ramps. Outside the city center, the infrastructure is worse and ramps are mostly missing, but new road repairs would fix this problem. The city administration still makes mistakes – a zig-zag ramp on Lychakivska St. is a bright example, but activist urbanists are helping them move in the right direction, and I hope the situation will improve within a few years.

Importantly, the right street design is beneficial for everyone parents with strollers or buggies, disabled people in wheelchairs, or those who are rolling suitcases or riding bicycles and scooters.

It took me 2 weeks to learn how to ride the monowheel. I carefully exercised for a week 15 to 30 minutes a day first at home to get the feel of the wheel, then outside. Once I felt I am ready to give it a real try, I went to a rollerdrome for roller skaters it has a smooth surface that’s where I did my first real ride. It took me another week to gain more confidence, so I could go as far as my office and back home. I have a friend who learned to ride in about 30 minutes that was impressive. My 13-year-old nephew learned to ride it in 15 minutes practically in no time. I think the best way to learn to ride a monowheel is by leaning on a shopping cart in a supermarket parking lot.

I can’t remember how my daughter learned to ride. Actually, she is still afraid to ride on her own only by holding my hand. I think it is because the 12kg wheel is too heavy for her and because she doesn’t feel she can jump off when she can’t control the vehicle.

Oleksandr Lysenko

Front End Developer, EduNav

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Once I had to get off a tram in the middle of my journey because it broke down and couldn’t continue its route. This happens a lot in Lviv. Around that time, I started to think that maybe I should change my way of moving around the city I wanted to be more independent and plan my time more productively. I was looking for a lightweight bike that could fit into the trunk of my car when needed. My choice fell on Like Bike Neo. It weighs about 17 kg and it can easily be folded.

The bike I chose is really lightweight, I can carry it with me if needed. I didn’t consider an electric scooter simply because it has smaller wheels that are more sensitive to any pothole that comes on the way. Moreover, it’s definitely more comfortable to sit rather than stand while riding.

For me, the electric bike is rather a means of transport, not a hobby. It’s more reliable than a bus or a tram, and it’s not necessarily slower. It’s definitely cheaper and sometimes faster than a car, and most importantly, you don’t have to worry about parking. The feeling of not being dependant on unorganized public transport, the feeling of mobility and freedom are the things I got when I purchased the electric bike 3 months ago. Since then I choose it every morning when planning my trip to work. The way from work home takes about 50 minutes or 11 km.

Before switching to the electric bike, I either used a car or a tram. I can’t say that I stopped using these means of transport completely I still use them if it’s raining or snowing. I like traveling by bike only if the weather is nice and I can actually enjoy it.

The biggest benefit I noticed since starting to use the electric bike – it’s your mobility, you don’t depend on traffic or whimmy tram drivers. Moving around by electric bike is extremely reliable – you know that you can get from place A to place B in an hour. Also, it’s very cheap – you only pay for electricity, it’s healthy – nothing better than fresh air and a workout after spending the whole day in the office. I think it’s cool.

Compared to other traditional means of transport – a car or public transport, an electric bike is 100% more economical. A car requires maintenance, public transport costs money (even though it’s very affordable in Lviv, but very unreliable too).

I would definitely suggest everyone try out alternative means of transport. It’s definitely the future of transport. Over the last year, more options for alternative transport appeared on the market – it’s getting more affordable, cheaper, and there are plenty of options to choose from. Nowadays, you can see many people in Lviv riding bikes or electric scooters. I think it’s becoming a trend. In my opinion, in the near future, no one will build additional infrastructure for cars, especially in the central part of our city. Traffic jams are and will continue to be a major problem of Lviv in the near future. The same thing with public transport – I don’t see how it can be improved at this stage.

Choosing a mobile, alternative means of transport is a great option to stay away from transport inconveniences. If it wasn’t raining that much in Lviv, I wouldn’t complain at all.

Nataliya Heras

Head of IT Club Loyalty Program, Lviv IT Cluster

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I have just become a happy owner of an electric car – Fiat 500e. Earlier I used to walk everywhere. In rare cases, I could use a trolleybus, tram or taxi. Sometimes my husband would give me a ride. But when I started to think about purchasing my own car I knew I wanted an electric one.

The most popular models on the market are probably Tesla or Nissan Leaf. I absolutely don’t like Nissan Leaf, and Tesla is way too expensive. I was considering an option of Renault Zoe, but when I saw my Fiat 500e I didn’t have any doubts. It was love at first sight.

I think choosing a more nature-friendly means of transport is very important nowadays. Lviv is overcrowded with cars. Our public transport is not convenient at all, and everybody is switching to cars. It’s sad. If there’s even the smallest chance to reduce your environmental footprint – why not to try?

Using an electric car is considerably cheaper. Ukraine has a well-developed network of electric vehicle (EV) charging stations. Most of them are free, and even if you have to pay for the charge, it’s much cheaper than using petrol. Moreover, I don’t have to do a vehicle inspection every 10-15,000 km. I don’t even have to change engine oil. It’s cool!

Switching to an electric car, didn’t affect my health. It didn’t get better, but I hope that it contributes to a better “health” of our city and the quality of the air we breathe every day. In addition to being ecological, Fiat 500e has other benefits – it’s a very mobile car which can easily be parked everywhere. Also, I can’t keep admiring how stylish it is.
            

For me personally, all the advantages of having an electric car outweigh its disadvantages. However, a rather small driving range is perhaps the biggest drawback. You can drive about 120 km with a single charge. It works well for the city, but for longer trips, even around Ukraine, this car might not be the best option. It takes around 6 hours for the car to fully charge.

I wish parking lots in Lviv had at least regular charging plugs, but unfortunately, most don’t. If I lived in a private house, there wouldn’t be any inconvenience at all: the car could be easily charged at home. However, it’s impossible to do it from the fifth floor of my apartment block.

A sad thing I noticed – it often happens that you specifically choose a parking lot with a charger, but it’s already occupied by a car that is not an EV. I would fine people who park like that.

If you are choosing between an electric car and a regular one, choose the first option. Nowadays, there’re many electric cars to pick out from. Almost every automobile manufacturer offers its own line of electric cars. You can definitely find an electric car that would suit your taste and budget. Don’t believe the myths that having an EV is expensive and inconvenient.

Before actually buying an electric car, do some research about the market or ask EV owners for advice. Only then, you can actually find your dream car and don’t regret the choice afterwards.

Also, I would highly advise you not to worry about not finding a charging station. Electric cars are becoming extremely popular in Ukraine. If you open a map of EV charging stations in Lviv, you will be surprised how many are there. We have big communities that are actively building infrastructure for electric vehicles. I like being a part of the community that promotes greener transport.

Andriy Pestov

UI/UX Designer, Symphony Solutions

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I use two types of alternative transport – a bike and an electric scooter. The benefits of using a bike are simple: it’s faster and more comfortable than public transport. At the same time, an electric scooter is extremely mobile – I can take it on a bus, put it in the trunk of my car, or take it inside a supermarket, for example. I’ve been using a bike for 8 years already and started to use an electric scooter more actively just two months ago.

I didn’t use public transport very often even earlier. Sometimes I use buses, more often trolleybuses since they are more spacious. I live in the very center of Lviv, close to the Ivan Franko National University, that’s why I got the scooter for local trips, for example, when I need to go grocery shopping. It takes 30 minutes for me to get to work with any transport, but with the scooter, I don’t have to wait for transport or walk to a bus stop. Using a scooter I can quickly get to areas with a better transport connection, and get on a trolleybus, for example.

My bike and electric scooter are both a hobby and a means of transport at the same time. It’s not really comfortable to travel far on the scooter, especially if we take into account the conditions of our roads. Therefore, I mostly ride the scooter to a bus stop and then travel by bus or trolleybus. For short distances, an electric scooter is really fast and convenient. It’s impossible to ride it on cobblestone roads very small wheels make the ride super bumpy.

Both a bike and scooter have some pluses and minuses. I’ll try to compare them. For me personally, a bicycle is the most comfortable means of transport in Lviv. However, there are some things where a scooter definitely seems as a better option: you cannot take it on a bus, it’s difficult to fit it in a car or taxi, you can’t bring it to a store, shopping mall or cafe, it’s harder to store a bike and it’s much heavier if you live on the upper floor and the elevator doesn’t work, it might be a real struggle. Moreover, I can’t really leave the bike at my office if my plans or the weather changed.

My electric scooter is very portable. I often take it on a bus, if there’s a traffic jam, I can just get off and ride a scooter, then go to a store to buy some food; when I reach the office I simply fold it and take it up to the third floor, put it close to my work desk, and in the evening I ride to the center to meet up with friends. I can easily take the scooter inside a pub, which is not possible with a bike.

The only disadvantage of an electric scooter for me – it requires very little physical activity, hence, you don’t get tired. You’re just standing and you can even get cold because you’re basically not moving. In general, the combination of these two means of transport – a bicycle and an electric scooter – is perfect for me, because I use them for different needs.

Among my friends, there are a few who regularly use bicycles to commute to work. If we talk about the whole company, out of 300 employees, there are just 3-4 cyclists (as seen at the office bike parking). Most of my colleagues commute by car.

If you are considering switching to more alternative, green and health-friendly transport, I’d definitely encourage you to try. But don’t do just one or two short trips, try using it for a long-term commute. For example, if you go to work by bike for 30 days, you’ll be able to understand whether such a type of transport suits you or not. It’s the best time to start right now, in the summer. Moreover, using a bike every day means leading an active lifestyle. It’s a great way to unwind after a day spent in front of a computer screen. Also, it’s a free gym! And the last thing – you don’t have to pay any extra fees except for the cost of your type of transport itself.

Mykhailo Bohdan
Content Writer, KindGeek

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I walk to work every day. The commute takes on average 45-50 minutes. This how my typical morning begins: the alarm goes off, I snooze it, the second alarm goes off, I snooze that one too, if I’m lucky, I wake up with the third alarm, shower, have breakfast and off I go.

Every season is good for walking. I walk in winter too. Harsh winter weather might be an exception (but we didn’t have that here for a while now). I don’t use any special footwear, just a regular pair of winter boots. If it is raining, I try not to forget an umbrella and rely on my superpower of jumping over the puddles. Can’t say I always succeed, but it’s definitely fun.

For me walking is a comprehensive benefit. It helps me to actually wake up, replaces the morning exercise, deprives me of the opportunity to enjoy our public transport (and any commute that involves our public transport ends up with stress and anger, not comfort), gives extra time to listen to an audiobook and provokes the brain to produce more endorphins.

It was a year and a half ago that I started to walk everywhere more actively. The public transport in Lviv and my hyperactive nature is what inspired me to take up such a hobby. Now it’s hard to imagine me without these walks. The benefits are endless. I definitely feel more cheery, have a better appetite, my mind is clear, my legs and nerves stronger. The only drawback I see now  my shoes wear off more quickly. On average I walk 10 km a day (to work and back).

The transport situation in Lviv is clearly bad: frequent traffic jams, overcrowded buses, angry drivers (it’s hard to be calm here, I understand). The only way how this problem can be solved  the local authorities have to invest in the development of public transport and make it more attractive for moving around the city than by using your own car. However, this would take not a year or two or even five years, but longer. This is a matter of healthy urban infrastructure and a comfortable city where it is easier to breathe. I hope the transport situation will change for the better, but I wouldn’t stop walking in such a case.

If I had to advise people on how to change their commute habits, I would simply list the benefits of walking, and once again remind of the dubious quality of public transport in Lviv. In particular, I would say that if I’m using public transport I cannot be sure how much time it would take  20 minutes or an hour, but when I walk I know I can make it in 50 minutes or even faster if needed. Of course, all of this doesn’t apply to people who live far away or have certain health issues.

I didn’t really notice any disadvantages of moving around the city on foot. Maybe when it’s raining and there are lots of puddles – but, hey, that’s a great chance to polish my skills of jumping over the puddles! I have an important rule – to be extremely careful when crossing a street. It seems like drivers tend to mix brake and gas pedals sometimes. For some people, even the red traffic light doesn’t mean they have to stop the car, unfortunately. Looking both right and left when crossing a street is a must. Already twice this rule saved me from at least an injury. 

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