I’ve been stewing over bikes for a bit. Not in a angry, mean kind of way – more like a warm, happy, chicken-noodle-soup-kind-of way. The idea of biking is really great; you have the opportunity to pollute less while keeping yourself in shape (bingo! double sustainability points!). The reality of biking is not really great [at least not in ATL]. Ted did a presentation on how he’s divorced his life from a car, which we had already talked about previously – but I thoroughly enjoyed his point about ‘every trip begins and ends on foot.’
Allison, Chris and I have been doing a lot of work and I’ve been way too lame to write about it. The three of took an adventure to Cabbage Town to see if we could find commuters in action – we got a little lost [no blaming me; I wasn’t driving], but it was a really interesting side of Atl that I hadn’t really seen before. We also stopped in Little Five and talked to two different skate shops and a bike shop about the pros and cons of how they get around the city ((some people like how crazy and risky it is to get around on a bike/board, some wear helmets and some don’t, etc.)).
Another important point of our research was experiencing riding a bike in the road first hand. Allison and I borrowed some mountain bikes and took to the road [at night. in the cold. in freaking Atlanta]. We road from M street to Northside to 10th street up to State where Allison turned left and I kept going for a block because I wasn’t listening, then down some other road by the townhouses near Atlantic Station, and then up that hill [we walked. whoops.] to 17th, and then a couple blocks down 17th street to experience how it felt to ride in an actual ‘bike lane’. Riding with Allison really helped me feel a lot more brave; having Chris follow us in his truck helped way way way more. I think we topped out at about 12mph – which would get quicker over time. Part of the difficulties we experienced were due to being out of shape and not having been on bikes in a long time. I have a bike of my own that I NEVER ride – it actually holds magazines in my apartment and looks super cute – and part of that is the type of bike it is + the fear of having to get my out-of-shape-self out in the freakin’ streets to ride it. Basically, riding that bike in the street with Allison has changed my perspective quite a bit. Bikers are killer. I mean, really, people that bike around campus are ‘bikers’ – but holy crap. To commute all over the city? That’s so extreme and brave – especially in the crazy, unpredictable weather. One of my friends said that riding a bike is like being in a convertible, and it lets you see things that you don’t usually get to experience in a car. So true – if I hadn’t been fiddling with my helmet, that ride would’ve been extra awesome. Feeling the wind and the wobble of the bike while trekking around is really liberating.
But how on Earth are we going to get more people out there on bikes the first time? That’s exactly our design problem.
Since realizing that we want to solve the ‘confidence’ issue of getting people out on bikes the first time, and making sure they stay out there, we’ve gone through several different product concepts. Some strayed from products into more advertising/promotional situations, and others into really rad concepts like ‘Aggressive Biking School’. After brainstorming some more, and really defining down what makes or breaks ‘confidence’ we’ve decided to create a sort of ‘Biker’s Buddy Bag’ [but much cooler than that]. One of Allison’s original ideas involved putting a map onto a bike seat, since there’s no need for anything more than a bike when you’re commuting [all about the bare essentials], but seat terrain + small surface area =/= as useful as we had hoped.
DVA got us into contact with a local bag/wallet designer, Malcolm Fontier, who was sooo very nice and talked to us for a long time about design, stitching, manufacturing and manufacturing drawings, conceptualizing, research, and benchmarking. It was really nice to get some real-life feedback and talk to someone that creates bags for a living. I also personally enjoyed being able to hear how what Leffler teaches us in Materials class really does matter when you design stuff. [Malcolm’s stuff rocks – he doesn’t use leather (instead its plastic-coated-canvas), he was featured at the ID exhibit at MODA (, and I want one of his bags in the sweet blue color he has (so worth checking out)] [His ‘smallest wallet’ is ingenious and I’m a proud new owner 🙂 ] Allison, Chris and I recently went to Dick’s Sporting Goods [I had never been in such a large Dick’s before – the one in Buckhead has three freaking stories, and the one in my hometown does not] to benchmark one-strapped bags. We found some by Nike, Jansport, and North Face and they all had a lot of interesting info to offer. I’m pretty partial to the Nike Team Training Mono in M-L because it’s strap is so ingeniously shaped and padded which makes it CRAZY comfortable and it’s uniquely shaped to fit better on one’s back; I’m not, however, a fan of the lame ‘girl’ colors in gross ‘coral’ and ‘cherry’ [give me electro inspired colors every day, thanks]. I’ve been trying to get rid of the itchy urge to go purchase said Nike bag and take to the streets on my bike – or maybe I’ll just have to do it one day. I think I could make it down North Ave and onto campus…
Anyhoo, we’re busy working on bag details as we speak. I’m *pretending to be busy* looking up how colors affect visibility [night vs. day, distance, etc.], as well as what materials we might make our bag out of *while writing this giant blog*. I have to go grab some samples at Joann’s tomorrow before studio so we can decide on what we want – or at least start figuring it out. We forSURE need to make the bottom of our bag waterproof since this bag is geared towards teens and early twenty-year-olds that are commuting to school and similar activities. I’m excited about the progress and design decisions we’ve made thus far, but I am beginning to get nervous because our model is due this coming Wednesday and we have so so much to do. Yikes. Good thing we have all weekend, eh? Or at least all weekend after BANGARANG. Perhaps I’ll ride my bike to The Loft? Perhaps.