At last week's International Design Awards, Victorian student Robert Dumaresq walked away with the James Dyson award for his Switch folding bike design. And it is awesome.Unlike the Strida 5.0 Bike that we looked at last year, the Switch is a full sized bike that collapses in one fluid motion, without the need for locks or releases.
As part of his prize, Robert won $4000 to put towards development of the Switch bike, as well as an all expenses paid trip to Dyson's R&D centre in the UK. I can only hope that he manages to get this thing into production pronto - I know a lot of commuters who would love to own a full-sized folding bike that doesn't have the same sort of compromises as other folding bike designs.
AUSTRALIAN DESIGN AWARD - JAMES DYSON AWARD Victorian student rides away with top prize
Emerging Victorian designer, Robert Dumaresq, has been chosen by a panel of Australian design experts as this year's most inspiring industrial design student talent.
Robert, from Monash University, has taken Gold in the 2009 Australian Design Award-James Dyson Award with his Switch Commuter Bike, a high performance folding bike specifically designed for easy handling in crowded environments by folding to the footprint of just one wheel.
The Australian Design Award-James Dyson Award was announced at Standards Australia's Australian International Design Awards held in Melbourne on Friday 29th May. The program recognises and promotes design excellence and innovation in Australia.
About Switch Commuter Bike
The concept of the Switch Commuter Bike was born when this student designer felt the impact of a call by the Victorian Transport Minister for an end to bikes on public transport. His own reaction, echoed strongly in an outpouring of public opinion, led to the subsequent change of heart by the Government and inspired the idea that bikes could be better designed to help alleviate over-crowding on public transport.
Switch was developed to address the market need for a fully-functional bicycle that was also able to meet commuter needs by quickly and easily folding down for compact storage on transport, within the office, other work environments or at home.
As the environmental impact of transport methods becomes increasingly top-of-mind; Australia is experiencing a surge in people cycling beyond simply a leisure activity. It is a low-cost, non-polluting form of transport that has the added benefit of keeping the cyclist physically active.
When asked about the difference between Switch and other commuter bikes available currently, Robert states: "The design innovation is Switch's ability to fold in one smooth motion - making it one of the fastest folding bikes available. It doesn't rely on any structural locking mechanism to fold, as the weight of the rider keeps the frame open and rigid. A spring loaded ball bearing stops the rear section of the frame from unfolding prematurely when manoeuvring and handling."
He also points out the fact that many bike riders aren't interested in conventional commuter bikes, because they look like 'commuter bikes'; whereas Switch looks like a 'real' bike but with all the commuter bike benefits.
Judges were impressed with the research, clever-thinking and ease of the design, with comments including:
'It's so easy to fold it up, and a great idea to get more people utilising this mode of transport to and from work.'
Robert wins a cash prize of $4,000 toward the development of his project, and also an all expenses paid trip to the United Kingdom to visit the Dyson Research Design and Development Centre, home of inventor and engineer James Dyson.
Other prizes awarded:
The Silver prize was awarded to Jason Lam from the University of New South Wales for SOLAQUA - a water disinfection unit designed for third-world communities that utilises ultra-violet and infra-red rays from the sun to eliminate pathogens. A sari cloth filtration system, black backing material to absorb and distribute heat more effectively, and innovative configuration make this a viable option for increasing access to safe drinking water in these communities.
The Bronze prize was awarded to Lachlan Meeks from the University of Technology Sydney for TrackSense; a new and innovative portable device designed to detect vibrations from oncoming trains. The device is able to more effectively alert workmen on the track well in advance of existing methods, therefore reducing the risk of injuries on the job.
A Highly Commended prize was awarded to Daniel Molloy, from Monash University, Melbourne for Boomer Mobility Aid; a mobility aid that has been designed in response to Australia's ageing population. It includes a stair-safe mechanism and ergonomic seating, in an aesthetically appealing, rather than utilitarian, hospital form.