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Bay View Cargo Bike

Project– 2014
I am trained as an architect, my dad is a welding instructor and I have a lifelong fascination
with bicycles. Combining these three passions led me to design and build a number of cus-
tom bikes.

The idea that became the Bay View Cargo Bike Project was born nearly ten years ago. I be-
gan to develop the program after noticing the number of divergent skills that were needed
to build lowrider bicycles. These not only included the mechanical skills to build the bike,
but also math skills, computer graphic skills, and overall design ability. I thought this could
be a good way to get students interested in these topics as well as to introduce the concep-
tual development and problem solving skills required for design. I started to see this as an
opportunity to teach these skills in a way that would engage students.

The program was originally piloted in 2008 at Cities Project High School. At that time, the
program focused on lowrider and art bikes . In 2010, I was invited by the Wisconsin Bicycle
Federation to lead a project involving cargo bikes as part of their Valid Bike Shop in North
Division High School. Because of the nature of the project the focus was more on engineer-
ing rather than aesthetics. Using this experience as a basis I reworked the original curricu-
lum to include these new concepts. It was this new curriculum that formed the core of the
Bay View Project.

Bay View Middle School Cargo Bike Project 2014
Our Client
Kompost Kids is a volunteer-run, nonprofit organization dedicated to transforming
our “waste” stream through active landfill diversion and local disposal of food re-
siduals and other compostables.
Their mission is to educate the public, individuals, businesses, and institutions about
the benefits of compost and to reclaim organic materials from landfills to create soil
for community-based agriculture projects.

Bay View Middle School Cargo Bike Project 2014
Introduction of the project
Through my ongoing conversations with Kompost Kids it was decided that the bike
should be able to hold 8 five-gallon buckets of compost with a total weight of 320
pounds. The expected range of the bike is about a mile, but there are several hills in the
area meaning that a multiple gear range was considered necessary. The bike will also be
used on public roads, so handling and stopping were important considerations.

The students started the project by interviewing Melissa Tashjian, the founder of Kom-
post Kids about the needs of the bike. The students were responsible for taking notes
and developing the design requirements.

As the project developed, it became clear that some students were more interested in
certain aspects of the project. Accordingly, we split the class into a design group, me-
chanical group, and metal working group. Each group had a student leader who was re-
sponsible for keeping the group on task and on schedule.

The students participating in the program were all learning English as a Second lan-
guage. While most were fluent in both English and Spanish, some struggled with English,
with a few not speaking any English. In order to meet the needs of these students I cre-
ated illustrations to help explain some of the design concepts.

Samples of These illustrations are found on the following pages.

Bay View Middle School Cargo Bike Project 2014
Bay View Middle School Cargo Bike Project 2014
Bay View Middle School Cargo Bike Project 2014
Research and Preliminary Design
Cargo bikes are fairly common in the Latino neighborhoods of Milwaukee as paleta ven-
dors often use them to sell ice cream. Because of this, most of the students had a basic
familiarity with using bikes as a working vehicle.

During the research phase of the project, we explored how these bicycles actually do
work. We debated about where to put the cargo and talked about the equipment includ-
ing brakes and the number of gears. We also looked at issues of visibility and color.

A key consideration for the students during this preliminary design phase was to make
the design fit within our budget. For this project we had $329 to spend to bicycle parts
and build materials. A large portion of the design process was spent calculating the total
material requirement and price, the primary build materials and costs can be seen on
the previous page. Many times the initial designs were reworked to ensure a more effi-
cient use of materials and money.

Students began the design process by developing inspiration boards, which helped to set
the overall feel and goals for the design. From that, preliminary designs were sketched
and refined using hand drawings, computer assisted drafting, and models.

Materials created during this research phase can be found on the next several pages.
The evolution of the bicycle design can be seen in these sketches and drawings.

Bay View Middle School Cargo Bike Project 2014
Bay View Middle School Cargo Bike Project 2014
Bay View Middle School Cargo Bike Project 2014
Bay View Middle School Cargo Bike Project 2014
Bay View Middle School Cargo Bike Project 2014
Final Design
The refinement stage is what separates great design from mediocre. This is the most
time-consuming portion of the design process. It involves changing the preliminary de-
sign into a fully developed idea. In this stage, designers focus on the fine details. They
also need to look at the design from a practical standpoint and see if it will work.

We made a decision that the cargo should be held in the front of the bike. This meant
that handling and visibility were going to be key issues. We developed several variations
until we finally arrived at our final design.

The following page shows the working drawing that we used as a blueprint during the
construction of the bike.

Bay View Middle School Cargo Bike Project 2014
Bay View Middle School Cargo Bike Project 2014
Detailing
The detailing process is a continuation of the final design. Once the final form of the bike
was settled, we could start to add the details; these including signage, lighting schemes,
a canvas cover silk screened with the Kompost Kids logo, and decorative wheel covers
inspired by flowers.

The following pages show the development of these details from sketches, to cardboard
mock-ups, to finished products.

Bay View Middle School Cargo Bike Project 2014
Bay View Middle School Cargo Bike Project 2014
Bay View Middle School Cargo Bike Project 2014
Fabrication
Some of the students were familiar with welding, but none of them had any hands-on
experience. In order to give the students some experience with metal work, we started
by using a plasma cutter to cut out simple designs. From this experience, a core group of
about 6 students emerged. They formed the metal working group and handled a major-
ity of the actual welding and fabrication.

The following pages document the fabrication process.

Bay View Middle School Cargo Bike Project 2014
Bay View Middle School Cargo Bike Project 2014
Bay View Middle School Cargo Bike Project 2014
Bay View Middle School Cargo Bike Project 2014
Bay View Middle School Cargo Bike Project 2014
Bay View Middle School Cargo Bike Project 2014
Test Ride

The pictures below are stills from the first test ride of the bicycle. The bike was tested in
the hallways of Bay View High School. For the first test rides, we did not hook up the
chain or brakes, so the students pushed the bike and rider at one end of the hallway and
caught them at the other end.

We considered this test to be a success.

Bay View Middle School Cargo Bike Project 2014