"Always go for the Samsonite, son."
Nighttime in downtown Manhattan, about a year ago, and I see this kid tearing down the street on a BMX bike—with a piece of carry-on luggage balanced on the crossbar between his frantically-pumping knees. It looked so un-doable, but the kid was moving so fast, that he clearly had practice doing it. What was weird was that I knew he was probably headed for Baxter Street.
I'd basically just witnessed Phase Two of a common local crime. To explain, I live near several popular hotels, and incautious tourists have been getting separated from their luggage for years. I knew that after snatching the bags, the thief would take them to a quiet street like Baxter or Crosby, rifle through them to take whatever was worthwhile, then ditch the bags. I deduced this by frequently spotting Phase Three—new pieces of some poor sap's luggage sitting in sidewalk trash piles, his clothes strewn about, every zippered pocket flayed open. What I didn't know was that the thief could execute Phase One—the snatching—via bicycle.
In any case, this is my roundabout way of saying I spotted a cool concept for luggage by London-based RCA student Rodrigo Garcia that I'd never dream of using in a city, but I still think the idea has merit. Check it out:
If you could only work out some kind of security measure—I'm a big fan of punitive electric shocks, I'd like the thing to fire some kind of taser if the wrong person grabs it—then yeah, I could see going through JFK with this thing. What would you like to see? A turtling lockdown capacity, noxious gas, an on-board cobra?
Tangentially, I'm reminded of something one of my design professors used to say at Pratt (though now that I think of it, he probably said it more to shut us up than impart an important design lesson). Whenever a student would theoretically discuss an end-user misusing a product design, the professor would snap "Well look, you design a car, someone will use it to rob a bank." Never thought I'd see a kid steal luggage with a bike.