John Metcalfe was CityLab’s Bay Area bureau chief, covering climate change and the science of cities.
This Japanese commuting bike mounts kids on the front and back ends of a bicycle, almost like biological bumpers.
Most parents who transport their children in bike seats no doubt finish without having an accident. But the image alone is enough to provoke worrisome scenarios. Child in a rear seat? Catapult. Boy on a handlebars-mounted chair? Battering ram.
Depending on your views on the matter, this electric bike from Bridgestone will either seem like the bee's knees or will make your blood boil. It's designed to mount kids both on the front and back ends of a bicycle, almost like biological bumpers. But a range of kicked-up safety features makes it a potential game-changer for tot-infested families who don't own cars.
The Angelino Assista E-Bike is made by Bridgestone, of auto-tire fame, which has already sold 300,000 of them in Japan. It's specifically designed for parents to cart one or two kids around the city. After performing unnamed "scientific experiments," Bridgestone formulated a baby-transport pod that sounds like it could withstand a head-on collision by garbage truck. It's called the "Super Angel Seat 2.0 (the 1.0 prototype was prone to spontaneous combustion... just kidding), and features a reclining back, a seat belt and a urethane head protector. When not housing a child the seat folds into a shopping basket.
Since the standard model of human baby does not respond well to being dropped, Bridgestone built the Angelino's frame with stability in mind. It has a low center of gravity and fat tires to help prevent a trip to daycare from toppling into a twisted pileup. The meaty tires reduce vibration on rough streets and have enough push-back to comfortably support families weighing up to 220 pounds. (Perhaps that limit explains why this product hasn't caught fire in the American market?) Because wrestling a kid into a bike seat while standing is a rough task, there's a wide stand and handlebar lock to stop the vehicle from tipping over.
Moms benefit from an open frame that accommodates the billowiest of skirts while they purr around town on a motor with a 37-mile range. The cost to get this heavy-duty ride added to the family fleet? Depending on the model, just $875 to $1,775.
Images courtesy of Bridgestone Cycle.
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