This issue was tackled by TU Delft student Isabelle Lugert. During her master’s programme, integrated product design, she developed a non-stigmatising tricycle that allows those with balance issues to still be able to cycle through life.
Technical and emotional design
During her master’s, Lugert searched for a subject that would allow her to work with both the technical and emotional sides of design. “When you grow old and start losing your strength, cycling becomes harder. The same goes for other target audiences like the hearing impaired. Both groups suffer from poor balance. Currently, the only solution for these groups is to ride a tricycle. However, these bikes are stigmatising, people don’t want society to see they are handicapped.”
For Antoinette de Vroomen, who is hearing-impaired, the tricycle allows her to go out at night. “I can’t wait to go to an evening show at the cinema,” she says. For Ineke Scheffel who has been left deaf by cell tumours, the bike helps her retain her balance. “My facial acoustic and balancing nerves had to be removed because of the tumour,” explains Scheffel. “Being deaf is the worst part, but the lack of balance is also an issue. It means I can’t cycle anymore. This tricycle gives me the chance to ride on my own again.”
Ready to market
For Lugert, who finished her master’s, the project has come to an end. “The bike is now being transferred to the bicycle company Beixo. They are looking into further developing it.”
Beixo-owner Ad Tummers is enthusiastic about the design. “For many years we have been producing low-entry folding bikes. At some point, we noticed we had to take our designs to the next level. That’s when Isabelle came along. We decided to take the chance and it led to something beautiful: this bike. Right now we are hoping to launch this tricycle on the market.”
- TU Delft TV shot a short documentary on Lugert’s tricycle. Make sure to watch it below.