Like most years, 2014 brought both rad and bad new offerings in the transportation world. Hoverboards saw weirdly practical strides forward, self-driving cars are no longer just in comic books and secret Google labs, steam punkish bikes clung on, and Harley Davidson went... electric? We had our favorites among the mess of concept projects and bike porn, and to pilot us into a new year here are some key highlights and oh-no-lights from our 2014 transportation coverage.
Philippe Starck's work with Giro Helmets explored some unusual territory, attempted to update a fairly staid part of the biking experience, and reminded us of the dual values of exploring challenging new forms... and thoroughly researching your concept project materials.
Elon Musk, not content with debuting a brand new space taxi to serve the International Space Station, amazingly, weirdly, beautifully released Tesla patents to the public, in a bid to get more auto designers working on electric technologies. Altruism from a leader in the ultra-high market car business might ring a little weird, but if gas-free design is going to happen in the industry, it really looks like they want designers to help. If you're a car geek with an engineering streak and you haven't checked it out... that's your holiday homework.
In the age old (American) drama of dueling vehicular modes, the Bike-vs-Car debate got some challenging and positive news. As transit planners in more civilized countries have known for years, setting aside a little carefully designed space for bicycles DOES benefit everyone. Yes even cars. Read up, ponder the humble armadillo, and think about what you'd like to see more of in your hood.
After losing a beloved motorcycle only to find it again stripped naked, Bill Webb at Huge Design rebuilt this motorcycle into a "cafe fighter" and one of the more surprising, fun motorcycle project bikes I've seen all year.
As an intro to the NY Bike Cult Show, we were intrigued (and slightly titillated) by the framebuilding tales of JP Weigle. JP has been framebuilding since before bikes were cool, uncool, and cool again, was around for the invention of mountain biking, and may have personally tipped the scales for the return of gorgeous/comfortable French style randonneur bikes. Looking at his incredible frames, you have to agree with the observation that "sometimes the line between creative art and a functional piece seem blurred." Mighty fine bike porn, even if you lean carbon.
In discovering "Sneckdowns", those of us less well-versed in the nuances of urban planning learned that driving and walking patterns marked in snow can show underutilized space in urban areas. This information could be useful in designing better pedestrian experiences, more bike lanes, and creating safer driving through street design. An inspiring way of thinking about unnoticed behavior and resources!
To some sneering consternation, Sada Bike proposed a seemingly feasible hubless bicycle. Despite my automatic and categorical rejection, the prototype showed thoughtful engineering around a perennial favorite thoughtless design trope. Students, take note.
Sexy high speed future trains continue to get sexier.. and stay in the future. But at least now it's the very near future, and we're getting out of the steampunk aesthetic swamp. So that's something to look forward to...and add to your portfolio of streamlined vehicle sketches.
This minimalist snap-together shit show of a concept bike—which is STILL making earnest rounds on design sites—was an exercise in adult credulity. How little do you need to know about physics to think this thing will work? Show it to your friends and find out.
Yerka. Seatylock. Guys. Stop integrating things so that they work less well. No. No no no. Nope. Everybody go home, and try again next year.
And for good seasonal measure, this hellish snowbeast conversion kit for your truck is an evergreen winner. Because if turning your 4x4 into a snow crushing ice warrior isn't good design, I don't know what is.