This entry was posted on Tuesday, February 12th, 2008 at 10:41 am and is filed under Bicycle advocacy, Bicycle technology. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.
On Friday, the US National Academy of Engineering will post a list of “grand engineering challenges” for the 21st century on EngineeringChallenges.org.
“A year ago we asked a group of leading technological thinkers what are the Grand Challenges for Engineering in the 21st Century. What engineering breakthroughs would improve life on Earth? Now they have answers. The future starts here on February 15. Cast your vote after 2pm EST.”
While many engineers may want to create the longest bridge, the biggest airport or the most technologically advanced skyscraper, others may want to dirty their hands on projects that are more planet-friendly. So, it will be interesting to see what the boffin committee comes up with. Will the consensus be that cities should be designed for people, not cars?
Right now EngineeringChallenges.org is just an annoying, information-deficient teaser site. It doesn’t even have an RSS feed. Here’s hoping there’s something to cheer about on Friday.
A lot of bicycle infrastructure designs tend to get bikes out of the way of cars, which is an idea that appeals to motorists but which worries many cyclists, fearing ghettoisation.
Auto designer Jamie Tomkins - son of Mr Crud, Pete Tomkins - is big into bikes and has been riding BMX, trials and DH since he was little more than a toddler. In 2007, when he was still at the Royal College of Art, he designed ‘cycling tubes’, a modern take on the bikes-in-the-sky idea that’s as old as motoring. His tubes would be semi-transparent, free of cars and pedestrians, and would be wide enough for pedicabs.
In 2006, Jamie was part of an RCA design team that won a GE-sponsored competition to find vehicle designs for the emerging Chinese market. While fellow designers went for funky cars, Jamie produced a plastic hybrid bicycle. But the competition press release demonstrated how some engineers and designers believe bicycles are at the bottom of the heap:
“After a trip to China, the team of Filip Krnja, Ehsan Maghaddampour and Jamie Tomkins developed vehicles for residents of an imaginary tower block - the Beijing Boom Tower. These ranged from a luxury concept car for the penthouse residents, a taxi design for the middle level residents with concertina doors for the crowded Chinese streets, and a new hybrid bike with interchangeable parts for the working class at the entry level.”
Jamie doesn’t think that way, he’s a bikie at heart and he may be able to sneak in a lot of bike friendly ideas in his career in the car industry. I bumped into him at last year’s Bicycle Design Summer School, organised by RCA and Imperial College. He was leaving for a job with Volkswagen.
Talking of German car brands, watch this ‘let’s make NYC auto-free’ video spoof (or Mercedes Benz advert) that has annoyed cycle advocates in New York City:
You’ve got to love the line ‘If supermodels can’t solve the world’s problems, then I don’t know who can,” but DKNY’s ‘orange bike’ campaign for Fashion Week annoyed cycle advocates because it seemed to mirror the placement of white Ghostbikes across the city.
“DKNY is working with the mayor’s office to raise awareness of cycling as a healthy and environmentally sound means of transportation around NYC. During Fashion Week (which runs the first week of February), DKNY has placed dozens of bright orange bicycles around the city to get people thinking and talking about bicycles as a healthy and fashionable way to get around the city.”
NYC’s Fashion Week was sponsored by Mercedes Benz.