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Later this month sees the third running of CycleHack, a collaborative brainstorming event which has grown to cover 38 cities on five continents. Will this year’s hacks outdo past successes like the viral hit Penny in Yo’ Pants?
“We wanted to start thinking about the total experience of cycling,” says CycleHack co-founder Sarah Drummond. “Infrastructure is important, of course, but we wanted to move the conversation beyond that. We’re not just looking at what needs to change, but how we need to change it.”
Drummond, the director of Snook design agency, started CycleHack in 2014 with Jo Holton and Matt Lowell, with the idea of running one event in Glasgow, before Melbourne and Beirut came on board. Last year, more than 500 people took part across five continents as the hack expanded to another 22 cities. This year there are 38 cities signed up – from Amsterdam to Athens, and São Paulo to Sydney, via Mexico City, London and Tokyo. Drummond is astonished at how quickly the movement has grown, and says she has already had a further 10 enquiries from cities who would like to join.
The hacks bring together participants from a wide range of backgrounds – cycle activists, developers, designers, planners and engineers – to innovative and collaborate on new ideas.
“Someone might come to enjoy talking to people about cycling and they might meet somebody who can start to turn their idea into something real,” says Drummond. “Some people, especially cycle campaigners, are often shocked at how quickly a person with developer skills can sketch out their ideas, and the next thing you know you’ve got a prototype.”
CycleHacks biggest-hitting idea yet is Penny in Yo’ Pants – an easy way to make a skirt more wearable on a bike using a coin and a rubber band. The video went viral with more than 3.5 million views on Vimeo.
Then there was Stack Rack – a two-tiered bike parking system made from old drop-handle bars and inner tubes – and Back Chat waterproof rucksack covers featuring eye-catching messages (“I am a human and I need to be loved”, or “I’m you on two wheels.”) designed to make drivers think twice as they pass.
Other recent ideas include solutions for mapping and theft-prevention – and an app which sounds a smartphone alert on the approach of an Uber taxi (designed to alert the cyclist that one of their quiet Toyota Prius electric hybrids is nearby).
All hacks are presented at end of event and uploaded to the 15-strong open source catalogue. “It’s not a competition and there’s no money at the end of it,” adds Drummond. “CycleHack is about collaborating to develop new ideas.”
The CycleHack 2016 cities in full are: Amsterdam, Athens, Beirut, Berlin, Birmingham (Alabama), Breda, Brussels, Bucharest, Cambridge, Chesterfield, Dundee, Glasgow, Istanbul, Kalamata, London, Luxembourg, Manchester, Medellin, Mendoza, Mexico City, Nuremberg, Paris, Portland, Prague, Rome, Rotterdam, Santiago, São Paulo, Stuttgart, Sydney, Tokyo, Vancouver, Vienna, Wuppertal and Wiesbaden.
Have you come up with the new Penny in Yo’ Pants or smartphone alerts for approaching Ubers? Share your CycleHack ideas in the comments below, or tweet using the hashtag #cyclehack