Commuter Bike Competition Winner Raises Interesting Questions

We have been following the competition to "design a commuter bike for the masses" over at the Bicycle Design Blog. The question asked was: What kind of bicycle, or pedal powered machine, would it take to get those people out of their cars for trips to the store or to work?

The judges have finally decided, and picked Torkel Dohmers' recumbent design.

Dohmers writes:

I have made an emphasis on automotive qualities in the design, to attract non-previous cyclists used to cars and motorcycles.

Another selling point to attract more people riding a bike (especially here in Europe) is weather protection - the bike has a roof!.....

Although this design is more expensive to manufacture compared to its traditional rivals, it is still just a fraction of the buying price of cars and zero in running costs...



Runner-up Ian Clewett's proposal

Some of the jury's comments on Dohmers' proposal:

"This semi-enclosed design is different and attractive to be a clean, mould-breaking alternative to non-cyclists.

"Fresh concept, well executed design, weather + crash protectionmake it appealing to non-cyclists. By far the best proposal in myopinion. I'd move the seat up a bit higher for improved safety in heavytraffic though."

They did point out some of the issues with recumbent bikes:

"My main concern is that a recumbent would be a bigger obstacle for a non-biker to overcome than to get on a regular bike, especially when thinking about different age groups — it's an issue with familiarity and perception. I think a regular person would feel that they would have to learn to bike all over again — therefore they would stick to what they are familiar with, their car.

A non-biker, who is new to recumbents, would probably not feel safe in heavy traffic as you will sit considerably lower than on a regular bike."

and concluded:

"I think we can all agree that convincing a non-biker to leave their car behind is a very complex and interesting problem to solve. There are so many levels to this that we probably haven't even thought of, and it would take a lot of research / ethnographies to uncover all the different issues involved and to understand how to address them."


Rick Marland's runner up

OK, I will put in my two cents- I would be scared to be so low among all the cars, I would feel restrained by the width as to where I could go, I would worry about where to park the thing and how much space it takes up, and would suggest that if you are going out in the rain you should get some raingear, this thing isn't going to keep you dry. I don't think anyone would give up their car for this.

What do you think?

More on the competition in TreeHugger: Design Competition : A Commuter Bike for the Masses : TreeHugger

Tags: Bikes | Design Competitions | Designers