• **Design Brief**


    My mission is to design a product that encourages more people to use bicycles and therefore stronger bicycle policies will be implemented in New York City. As seen in a case study from the Netherlands, bicycle policy can only gain strength when there are more bicyclists on the road. Bicycle policy creates stronger rights for cyclists and recognition of them as a part of the mainstream transportation in any city. This would create more bike lanes, safety, legal rights and security. Due to the high rate of bicycle vandalism in NYC (New York City) people tend not to use or own bicycles in this city. Through research into this area I learned that 60,000 bicycles get stolen every year in NYC. Therefore, I have chosen to design a product that deals with the security of the users bicycle.

    My NFP (Not for Profit) is TA (Transportation Alternatives). They have been around for over 30 years and are a crucial organization in advocating bicycle policy and changes here in NYC. I met with 2 representatives from TA and we discussed my idea to reduce vandalism with a government secured bicycle rack. Though they liked my idea, they informed me that NYC is already in the process of choosing a new bicycle rack from a design competition that ended October 31st 2008. Recognition of my idea would not happen. They suggested a niche for me to think about. Apparently when there are events in the city or one of the five boroughs, many cyclists show up and lock their bikes anywhere they can. Imagine 500-1000 bicycles showing up in a neighborhood blocking all the sidewalks.

    Their design proposal was valet bike parking. Ryan, from TA, showed me a makeshift design that they have tried to use. Their product has many problems. The setup they are using is not branded and therefore, bicyclist have trust issues with leaving their bikes there. Another problem is that their setup uses heavy piping that can only be transported by a van. Using a van defeats their purpose.

    Proper design of this type of product can be very successful and gives bicyclists an option of knowing their bikes are secure. The user will know that he/she won’t have to lug around a 12lb. Kryptonite chain to lock their bike up. The age group is primarily anyone; there are bike rallies all over the city all the time and get very mixed age groups.

    Valet Bike Parking can be implemented at sporting events, concerts, flea markets and many events that take place here in NYC. In my discussions with TA they mentioned that similar ideas have been implemented in Portland, Oregon, and Chicago Illinois. The cost/marketing technique used is that the event host would rent the product.

    Prototype testing can be tested at any upcoming event in the city. Hopefully in follow up meetings with TA they can guide me on implementation of the prototype. During our meeting they discussed with me that a great design and branding would increase the percentage of bicycle users in NYC. Their goal is to increase from the current 1% to 5% within the next few years.

    The materials would have to be light, collapsible and space saving. The TA Indicated to me that they would like to utilize a bicycle hitch they own that can carry as much as a hatchback car to carry this product around. The production scale would have to be large. At any event where they would utilize this product, they would need many of them to accommodate such a large bicycle crowd. Some of the materials I envision would be strong wire bound cables, steel braces and supports, and a way to connect them to the ground. Colors and branding will make it a credible secure bike parking service. To create a properly structured design, my inspiration will most likely come from studying bridges and architectural design.

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    Sam, I am very excited about this. I hope that my lead helped you to get on the inside with Transportation Alternatives. Your research is perfect. You have collected exactly the right kind of data, including man-on-the-street, relevant statistics, and now expert testimony. TA can help you brainstorm and then test out your ideas. They might even be in a position to help bring this to market if it turns out as good as it sounds now. When I see bike valets using the Vider Bike Valet System (VBVS) in the future, I will think nostalgically about my (minor) role in its development. You said that you think you might look next at bridge and other structural design. this is a great idea. Let me know if I can help you identify some good sources. How big do you image the thing will be? How many bicycles would be able to be locked to it? Is there an actual valet? I am picturing this to be something like a porto-toilet that they tow to event sites the night before, and then haul off later. I think the prohibition about using a gasoline powered vehicle to tow the rack is silly. TA can be a bit ideological, if I remember correctly. They see their mission in a religious light, but you can remain a bit more dispassionate, hopefully. Just because you need to use a van to transport it does not mean that it is morally suspect....

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