Following the wild success of custom-designed public bicycles in Paris and Copenhagen, Bordeaux will be the latest metropolis to unveil its very own city bike, by French design dynamo Philippe Starck. A twist: It’s a bike and a scooter rolled into one.
"It is from the analysis of the many responses of the citizens of Bordeaux—responses that are varied, constructive and intelligent—and the unique characteristics of Bordeaux that the novel idea of this new means of transportation began," Starck says in a press release (translated by Co.Design’s resident French expert, my mom). "This revolutionary ergonomic design seems to be a creative and correct response to new questions asked, in particular, about pedestrian areas."
The scooters are expected to be manufactured by Peugeot and will supplement an existing bike-sharing program in Bordeaux, which has made a point of promoting cycling. Thanks in part to efforts to limit car traffic and develop a tramway, the city has seen the number of cyclists triple in the past 15 years alone; today, more than 10% of residents commute by bike. Officials hope that a freshly designed PMV will strengthen that momentum.
Starck presented the concept, after input from the public, earlier this month. It’s only a preliminary design, so details are vague, but based on a rendering, it has big yellow wheels and standard pedals for when you want to ride it as you would any other bike. It also has a step-through frame and a platform for times when you want to zoom along, labor-free.
Starck gives the initiative some serious star power. In the design world, he is as famous for his flamboyant personality as for his flamboyant, if sometimes baffling, designs. (Of a non-functional, gold-plated lemon squeezer he created for Alessi years ago, he is rumored to have said, "It’s not meant to squeeze lemons, it is meant to start conversations.")
Bike-sharing programs have been tremendously popular in Europe and even here in North America. One drawback, though, is that they exclude residents with limited mobility (and those of us who are just mega lazy). A bike-scooter hybrid sounds like a good way to solve that problem.
I have a few doubts. For one, a swish scooter—by a celebrated designer, no less—is catnip for thieves, so this thing better have one hell of a locking mechanism. I also wonder how they’re going to make the frame and the motor light enough to where pedaling doesn’t feel like steering an ocean liner. Then there’s the question of Starck himself. Do you trust a guy who makes ornamental lemon squeezers to design something that, ya’ know, has to actually work? Here’s hoping the bike does more than start conversations.
[Image courtesy of Philippe Starck]