20 November 2008

Danish Bicycle Design in New York?

A Copenhagen design company, Goodmorning Technology, are developing a design for a new City Bike for New York City, in the style of the Vélib' Bike Share Programme in Paris.

The drawing above is from an article in the Danish paper Politiken, showing a rough idea of the design. Ida Marie Nissen and Mads Kjøller Damkjær, from Goodmorning Technology, are working on a total solution, not just a bike design, which they'll be delivering to NYC's Parks Commissioner Adrien Benepe before Christmas.

They are focusing on designing a bike made of sustainable materials as well as working out the entire implementation of the scheme. This is where it gets tricky, according to Ida Marie Nissen.

"The mere fact that the sidewalks aren't owned by the city, but rather are private property, makes it quite a challenge when you have to find space for bike racks. There are so many barriers and hurdles that we don't experience here at home, but that we have to take into consideration when doing the strategic planning", said Nissen to Politiken.

It's worth noting that in Paris, they use by and large street space, not sidewalk space.

"We don't know if the project will be green-lighted but we can only hope that the city bike ends up resembling our original design", adds Mads Damkjær. They've designed a robust bicycle with lights, reflectors and a lock mechanism. The enclosed wheels are 'prime advertisment surfaces', as Damkjær calls them. [Thank god the style-savvy Parisians have so far avoided unattractive ads on their Vélib's].

The design also includes a helmet, which is quite odd considering the fact that no-one is going to wear a helmet worn by many other people. This is the main hindrance to bike share programmes in helmet-oriented places.

It's a major problem in Australia, with their helmet laws. The Age has this little article and there is an analysis of the problem here.

Here's a fun article about what lovely diseases you can get if you share a helmet - and other sports gear. Barf-o-rama.

Apart from that strange glitch in the design, the bike looks great and practical and I, for one, would love to see a Copenhagen-designed city bike in Det Store Æble.