Monday, October 27, 2008

Pedal powered snowplow

Now that winter is coming up in the Northern Hemisphere, it's time to bring up this item from last year.

Kevin Blake in Wisconsin created the pedal powered snowplow during the winter of 2003-2004. "Mr. Plow" became his entry in Specialized's "Innovate or Die" competition.

Kevin got second place in the competition and won a Specialized bicycle. Kevin works for as an engineer for Trek.

See also David Peterson's bicycle snow plow in Illinois, which is used to clear bike trails outside of Chicago.

Don't forget the Bike Design Competition -- James wants non-cyclists to enter this contest so please help get the word out!


SiouxGeonz said...

Non-cyclists in the bicycle design contest... okay, I wouldn't want to exclude anybody, but IMO too many people are designing and marketing bicycles without understanding the users' situations and needs.
I was speculating about one of the hugest problems with bicycles: their "sort of" portability which means they're too big to put in your pocket or backpack... but small enough to be too easy to rip off.
I want "OnStar" for my bicycle. Just like those ads, I want my wristband to tell me "Your bicycle has just been moved, and you have it in 'park' status. Would you like ONStar to activate the Stinky Squirtseat now?" at which point the seat would spew the contents of the little optional bag for riders who have issues with bladder control upon sudden stops.

James said...

Siouxgoenz, you are right, but I just want to point out that there is a difference between design and marketing. Industrial designers are trained to solve problems and to make products user friendly, so I think designers outside of the industry have something to offer.

I do, of course, want cyclists to enter the competition too, but I am promoting it on general design sites also because I want to see a variety of ideas from people with different backgrounds. Sometimes a fresh design perspective is necessary to get people within an industry (not just the bicycle industry, but any industry) to take a break from the status quo and look at their core product differently. An idea like turn signals for a bike, something I know you have mentioned many times before, is a great example of the type of a feature that is unlikely to come from someone who is a bike enthusiast (most of the people in the industry), but it makes perfect sense to the casual observer. Anyway, that is the point of the competition- it is really just to get people thinking about some of the issues that most cyclists with a recreational riding background never give a second thought.

Anonymous said...

Yes, great to have non-cyclist designers injecting ideas, but just make sure the ideas are vetted with cyclists and engineers before the marketing department forces it upon consumers before anyone has made it work.

SiouxGeonz said...

I do understand that you want new perspectives (hence my comment that I wouldn't want to exclude anybody).

My confusion starts when transportation bikes are defined by what they're not, somehow. "In contrast to cycling enthusiasts like myself though, the average person who may just be starting to entertain the thought of bike commuting to save money or reduce their carbon footprint, isn’t looking for a hard workout or a personal best time to the office. ... They don’t want or need a trickle down version of a racing bike; they are looking for something that is specifically designed to meet their transportation needs- a bike that is easy to use, comfortable, and efficient, but also fun."
"Trickle down racing bikes" are a recurring frustration ... but probably much more so to currently practicing practical cyclists than the ones who haven't done it yet.
Granted, just like a musical instrument, the entry level instrument of choice is different than when one develops skills and specific tastes... so are you looking for an "entry level bike to learn on?"
Like an awful lot of folks, I don't think bike design is what keeps the masses from riding, and I'm not sure why their/our needs would be different from current practitioners of practical cycling. It's an interesting thought, though! The cognitive equivalent of those little fret stickers that go on guitars to tell you where to put your fingers for each chord - can we do that for a bicycle?
And how about that OnStar?

Anonymous said...

This is awesome. I hope these become available to the public. I think I need to write about this.