17 August 2000
Urban traffic congestion could be a thing of the past if British inventor, Chris Boocock, gets his way.
Confronting the woes of traffic jams and pollution, Chris has invented an electrically assisted single-passenger rickshaw, winning a £2000 cash prize from the British Standards Institution in the process.
The "Quikshaw" aims to cut congestion and air and noise pollution - and bring pedal-power back to the fore of urban transport.
Chris is an Industrial Design Engineering student at the Royal College of Art, with whom BSI collaborate on their Design Award scheme.
His concept of an environmentally friendly utility vehicle came from engineering a bicycle seat for the child of a friend.
"It started me thinking about bicycles as taxis," says Chris.
"Since 70% of urban taxi journeys involve only one passenger, it makes no sense to occupy so much road and use so much energy to transport that individual. The Quikshaw is my response to the need for a new approach."
The innovation lies in Chris's design - unlike a conventional rickshaw, the Quikshaw is no wider than an ordinary bicycle. The resulting vehicle makes the minimum impact on ambient traffic flow - moving forward between traffic when other vehicles are static, and not impeding the traffic flow when it is moving faster than the Quikshaw. Moreover, as Chris points out, the average speed of traffic in London is 10 mph - while the power assisted Quikshaw is able to accelerate with traffic and to reach speeds of up to 15 mph.
He hopes the Quikshaw - a proto-type of which is currently being tested - can supply a missing link in an integrated urban transport system, providing an environmentally sustainable bridge between other forms of transport. He insists,
"I want to improve urban transport and give people a viable low-impact door-to-door alternative. The Quikshaw is designed for trips of one to five miles in the urban environment and could carry a person or a commercial cargo."
Chris's design took first prize in this year's British Standards Institution Design Awards. With the £2000 prize money, Chris plans to go to the USA to look at natural composite materials (which could be used in the Quikshaw's manufacture), and Copenhagen and Ghent to study bicycle friendly infrastructures where cycling is widespread.
The Design Award scheme is sponsored by BSI to recognise and help foster innovation in environmentally sensitive designs.
Nick Moy, managing director of BSI Global Quality Services, said:
"Through this Awards programme, we want to draw attention to the role standards play in quality design and in particular, in environmentally sensitive design. I am delighted that this year's winner has demonstrated a low-impact, sustainable concept - exactly the kind of innovation the award was set up to inspire."