Safer cycling through better technology. "currently available bicycles have serious deficiencies in everyday use", says Helmut Wirkner who developed the "meier Cruiser". As a proposed solution, he has developed a 10-point list.
Helmut Wirkner, Diplom-Ingenieur (FH) in Mechanical Enginnering, has since the 1970s worked intensively on the subject of the bicycle in everyday use. He quickly established, on his 15 and 25 km rides to work, that currently available bicycles have serious deficiencies in everyday use. He has put this knowledge to good use as he designed the "meier Cruiser" for everyday use, in bike and pedelec forms.
Helmut Wirkner was interviewed by ExtraEnergy, with the interview conducted by Angela Budde (Editor, ExtraEnergy.org).
Angela: What does ‘everyday cycling’ mean for you?
Helmut: Everyday cycling is using a bike/pedelec as a vehicle or means of transport, involving transporting the rider from A to B, along with their personal effects (briefcase etc.) as well as goods and provisions (shopping) plus small children. This is the only, severely demanding usage case which to date no currently available bike has systematically addressed.
Angela: What deficiencies have you experienced in everyday use?
Helmut: In general, I’ve discovered that the tough demands of everyday use show up a lack of robustness. In addition, there’s the uncomfortable and also dangerous riding position, the unreliability of the lighting, and the lack of ability to carry luggage with you.
Angela: What types of bikes are particularly affected by the uncomfortable riding position?
Helmut: In particular, it’s the trekking bikes, which are the most widely used. The position, which is regareded as sporty, has the upper body leaned over forwards, and when riding hard there is a tendency to dip the head, restricting your view of the road ahead and of oncoming traffic. I myself had a head-on crash with an oncoming cyclist because I saw him to late.
Angela: So what does your solution for safe everyday cycling look like?
Helmut: Even today, in 2018, the main conceptual deficiencies have not been remedied, even though in recent decades almost every type of component has been significantly improved, and despite the fact that all of the necessary parts and components for an optimal everyday bike are already available on the market.
As a proposed solution I have developed the following 10-point list:
1. sensible ergonomic design
2. attractive, holistic design, integrated functionality
- ergonomic seating position; safe, healthy, comfortable
- ergonomic pedaling = efficient pedalling
- lower step-through and lower seat, no more climbing on or off = feet on the ground when stopped
- man-machine interfaces ergonomically designed
- unisex; one size fits all,
3. technical details follow mechanical engineering principles / 2018 state of the art
- it looks good, makes you want to go cycling,
- Modular construction, unified module interfaces
- Functions integrated
4. easily adjustable
- simple, robust, technically excellent,
- reliable, easy to maintain
- relies on mechanical locking rather than friction
- weatherproof, rustless
5. designed to be a good transporter
- to the rider
- to different tasks
6. offers protection from spray and muck
- can carry personal luggage, shopping and small children, all easily and safely
- suitable for towing all types of trailer
7. comprehensively protected against theft
- neither rider, the bike or its luggage are to get wet and dirty
8. lightweight, easy to manhandle: when riding, carrying, walking alongside and parking
- the bike as a whole
- the components
- mechanical + electronic + organisational safety
9. high levels of active and passive safety
- lightweight, narrow, easy to manhandle, simple
- easy to carry and park
- simple to take with you in the car, in the bus or train
10. customer-oriented sales and service
- active safety: everything is always fully functional
- active safety: have a good view
- passive safety: be seen easily
- passive safety: no danger of being injured by the bike
For further information about the development of this optimised everyday bike see:
- the bike will be fitted optimally to the customers, and it will suit him/her
- lifetime service, as with a car
Find a choice of criteria for save everyday use here:
>> Photo gallery examples of dos and dont´s (flickr)
Copy: Angela Budde, Helmut Wirkner
Picture: Angela Budde
Online publication: Angela Budde
6th September 2018