October 2012: B.U.G. (Beautiful.Useful.Green) Design

Cardboard Bike

Inventor Izhar Gafni has united an extremely useful and versatile material (cardboard) with a universally used product (the bicycle) to create a transportation option that could profoundly affect the developing world. Gafni calls his cardboard bicycle the Alfa.

Watch a video of Gafni and the Alfa in action.

Why is it beautiful? To paraphrase Modernist architect Louis Sullivan, it’s a beautiful thing when form is such a true expression of function. What makes Gafni’s Alfa bike beautiful is its intent, and its structural elegance in using a small amount of cardboard to carry large loads, in a recognizable form.

Why is it useful? A thick layer of waterproof paint ensures that the bike is as robust as possible, and it costs less than $12 to make. Biking covers a distance around five times fast than walking, and the low price means that this economy of time can be brought to a demographic who can not afford it otherwise.

Why is it green? Bicycling is probably the most sustainable form of mass transportation. Gafni’s ability to manufacture the Alfa and its derivatives inexpensively and simply, from recycled materials (including used tires), could bring transportation to billions more people. Gafni thinks big, “Like Henry Ford who made the car available to anybody, this bike is going to be cheap and available to any child in the world.” He is also working on a cardboard wheelchair…

Where is it at?
After three years and several patent applications, Gafni is now fundraising with financial service provider ERB to produce the Alfa in adult and child versions.

Check out Sally’s blog for more B.U.G. Designs.

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