With Gurus’ day approaching, the question is getting more and more pressing. What is the concept seriously going to be? A smart bike is nice and sounds interesting, but what does it actually mean? Getting that asked a lot, I feel the urge to settle down for a project, even though I shy away from it. The very reason why I struggle to decide for one final concept is that my approach to the task seems to be impossible. It is my personal aim to get people to leave the car at home and take the bike instead. The main motivator for me? The goal to save the environment and make the world a little bit better. Very cheesy, of course, but it is my main ambition for most of my projects, and since the honour’s project needs to be something to be passionate about, it is the nominated drive.
So I started investigating car people (I am sorry for this kind of labelling). Why would they rather drive a car, even if it means to get up 1 hour earlier to avoid the rush hours.
Through interviews, the problems with cycling are fairly obvious: safety, comfort, time and distance. These problems turned out to be paralysing in their complexness. Sometimes the only solution seems to be inventing a brand-new vehicle, too huge for a single person and 9 months. How can anyone from the rural areas actually cycle to their work in the city without proper cycling lanes? Amazing ideas, like bikes with wings, boat-bikes with sails or bikes which attach themselves on cars were born. But to find an actual solution is difficult. Let me explain: One of the insights gained, “cycling is dangerous”, is the best example. Yes, cycling is dangerous. You are overlooked by cars, pedestrians, motorcycles, and above all everyone in the traffic seem to hate you. So, let us create a safety featured object. But safety is not a motivator, it is not going to convince more people to go for a ride. Wear a full body protect suit, one that does turn you into a Michelin Man once you are flying off your bike, and still people would think it is dangerous. It is the mindset we are brought up with, how our society is teaching us to see bikes. Worthless, easy to break an annoyance in traffic. I came across my research that in the early 20th century, bikes were far more respected and treated as equal to the car, simply because they are no regulations favouring the car. To fight against this kind of mindset with a 9 month project is a very high aim and one, which makes the decision to project so difficult.
Basically, this renders insights very limiting. One of the interviewees even said:” I got spat at from a driver, but what can you do….” What can you do? Is there actually a way for a product to change literal hate? In my opinion, no. There is rather the need for education and a change in the traffic laws before anything might happen. It is a sad truth, and it shows clearly the restrictions of design. It is also the main struggle I am currently facing. What CAN I do?