How can we enable cycling in conditions people normally wouldn’t?
What if you like cycling to work, but the distance is too long to ride comfortably on a daily base? What if you want to enjoy a riverside picnic with your kids, but the smallest one is already tired after pedalling 2 kilometres? What if there’s a long stretch of dangerous road on your bike journey? Sometimes cycling is not our number one choice for the entire stretch. But should that mean we cannot bike at all? How could we enable cycling also in less than ideal conditions?
After having studied a couple of concrete cases, we created a future framework for bicycle culture and drew several user scenarios to get deep insights about concrete desires and thresholds for (wannabe) cyclists. The derived guidelines for a new type of vehicle and complementary infrastructure were translated into a concept, which was subsequently developed, evaluated, and iterated in virtual reality. As final step, we also analysed ideal distances, frequencies, and speed.
The result is a concept study for a new autonomous vehicle category that enhances the use of bicycles over longer distances. One of the key aspects is the effortless transition (both functionally and emotionally) between biking and using the vehicle. Next to protecting from the elements, the stations are designed as pit-stop bars and intuitively show how many cyclists the next ferry can fit. Boarding and disembarking is incredibly easy: just cycle on it from one side and ride off from the other side. For short rides, passengers can even choose to remain seated on their bikes for an even more continuous experience.
One of the most important aspects in designing multimodal solutions is to maintain fluidity over the entire journey. Furthermore, a “bicycle enabler” like we designed should never impose a single available option. Seasoned cyclists might prefer to pedal the stretch under all circumstances, but that’s just fine. For all others, the Cycling Ferry might be that little push needed to get out on that steel steed!