John Metcalfe is CityLab’s Bay Area bureau chief, based in Oakland. His coverage focuses on climate change and the science of cities.
It may look like a big baby carriage, but this unusual trike doubles as a great place to snooze.
Legend has it that in the 1940s, an 18-year-old cyclist from Michigan got it in his head to bike to Boston. It was two-week slog over 1,200 miles, but he was able to finish it nevertheless – and without stopping in any hotels, too, thanks to a curious trailer he towed that doubled as a bed.
The sleeping pod was made of what looked like handsome wood, but its small dimensions made crawling inside a claustrophobe's nightmare, similar to entering a coffin. A short article in the ever-fantastic magazine of yore, Modern Mechanix, shows the cross-country hero squished inside like a canned anchovy:
Well, good news to cyclists wishing to recreate this feat. Thanks to the creative work of New York-based architect Dimitrios Spyropoulos, the pedal-powered sleeper-car has received a modern update. This new version, inspired by the original Boston trek, eschews a trailer for a seat that folds out into a bed. An accordioning carapace akin to a convertible's soft-top provides privacy for snoozing and protection from the weather. Three wheels and a low center of gravity keep the vehicle stable, like a wide recumbent bike (or in this case, something resembling a recumbent baby carriage).
Here's Spyropoulos explaining why he made his "Dwelling Bicycle":
Transportation, recreation, racing... Undoubtedly, the variety of functions that a bicycle can perform is impressive. What would happen if some of these were combined and especially when one of them does not belong to its accepted and expected operations? The project aims at a harmonious coexistence of the functions of the bicycle as a means of transportation and accommodation in a single, unified package. The main objectives focus on ensuring the necessary privacy for the character of the vehicle as a place of rest, while maintaining drivability, despite the increased weight compared to a usual bike.
The trike's conceivable applications extend beyond long-distance trips. It could be a safety net for narcoleptics, perhaps. And anybody who's had a few too many drinks and doesn't want to risk a BUI can simply pull over and fall asleep. Sure, pranksters might hear your snoring and push you and the trike down your city's biggest hill, but hey, loop some rope around the bed and you got yourself an improvised seat belt:
Images by Dimitrios Spyropoulos via the A' Design Award and Competition