Cycling groups have been cropping up across India of late in a welcome movement that promotes this most environment-friendly means of transportation. In cities like Baroda, people like Nikita Lalwani, the ‘Bicycle Mayor of Baroda’, are raring to “convert 1/3rd of the city’s population to absorb cycling as a transportation mode by 2020″.
But with very little infrastructural support in cities for cyclists, it’s a long road ahead for these passionate folk! As of now, people still have to hunt for poles to tie their cycles. Avid cyclists in Mumbai have had to beseech corporate offices, malls and the BMC to provide parking lots for them, to little avail.
But this innovative idea by eighth graders in Tamil Nadu will give you tips on how to create your own affordable DIY cycle stand.
Eighth graders at ELSP SSATN Panchayat Union Middle School in Marudhurai faced their share of cycle-related hassles everyday. Cycles were always falling like dominoes in their school parking lot. Because their parking lot had no cycle stand, cycles would fall each time a student tried to park her vehicle, or when heavy winds blew.
Under the mentorship of R S Karthikeyan, the 13-year-olds – T Harish, S Vignesh, R Rajesh, S Janaki and K Mathumitha – decided to design something that would keep their cycles in place. They were inspired to do this by adopting the simple 4-step formula of ‘Feel-Imagine-Do-Share’ developed by the non-profit Design for Change, which challenges children to solve problems in their communities
The kids first ‘Imagined’ various solutions to the problem. They thought of laying car tyres to hold the cycles in place but this would take up too much space. They considered hanging ropes that could hold the bicycles in place, but these would be difficult to tie and untie frequently. Ultimately, the kids had an idea.
They could use Velcro tapes to hold the cycles in place.
Here’s how you can make your own inexpensive bicycle stand in your community parking lot, college or school; you will need:
- A coil of sturdy string (The kids used 80 feet of metal string.)
- PVC pipes. Cut them to individual pieces of 2 feet each. (Cut as many pipe pieces as there are bicycles that need parking, or a little more.)
- Velcro tapes, each 1 foot in length. (Get as many tapes as the number of bicycles that need parking)
Taking a cue from the kids, string the PVC pipes across the metal string. Tie the string on either ends of the parking lot to two vertical poles, at a height of three feet.
These vertical poles could be trees, pipes or light poles. Between the PVC pipes, leave spaces for attaching the Velcro tapes. (Velcro tapes are strong enough to bear the weight of a cycle, as well as cheap and user-friendly.) While parking a bicycle, these Velcro tapes can now be untied and tied around the bicycle carrier.
Watch this video by the kids to see how to execute this simple and effective idea:
Motivated by the success of their design solution, the students of the Marudhurai school ‘Shared’ their idea with more people. They went from school to school explaining their idea. Owners of two-wheeler stands also commended the students for their idea.
The Headmasters of nearby schools expressed that they would implement the cycle stand in their own schools.
Over the past few years, kids from various Panchayat Union Middle Schools in Tamil Nadu have been incredibly active in taking on Design for Change projects.
In 2016, a group of boys ingeniously designed a toilet urinal using waste plastic bottles; their inspiring story even landed them on the TEDx stage. Another group of boys designed an Eco Roof using plastic bottles, while another created life jackets using plastic bottles.
What do these kids gain from taking on such out-of-syllabus challenges? R S Karthikeyan, a teacher at the Marudhurai school, explains,
“Students should not be fed up with the problems they face. They should try and try till they arrive at a proper remedy. We chose to call our project Arise, Awake and Stop Not to express this.”
Perhaps this points to the spirit of creativity, skills of problem-solving and underlying qualities of empathy and imagination that project-based learning can impart.
Perhaps these kids can graduate saying “I CAN” make a difference.
The students of the Marudhurai school were recognised for ‘Quick Impact’ at the ‘I CAN Awards 2017’ that’s organised by Design for Change and sponsored by Parle-G.
Since 2009, the annual ‘I CAN Awards’ have attracted 14,000 stories of change from school children all over India who have followed the Feel-Imagine-Do-Share (FIDS) model of design-thinking to create social change in their communities.
Know an avid cyclist who is hard-pressed to manage his day-to-day commute? Share this story and help make it easier for cyclists to pursue their passion!
Want your kids to learn problem-solving skills? Take part in one of the largest movements of children driving social change world-over. Take up the ‘I CAN’ School Challenge in your classroom. Find out more online.