Bike security proposal brings PSU Innovative Challenge honors to student team

(from left) Juniors Anna Blakely, Emma Perlman, freshman Jonathan Cordisco, junior Ruhika Prasad, and sophomore Siddharth Suri stand in front of their presentation board and prototype while adviser Meg Kilmer crouches under the board.

(from left) Juniors Anna Blakely, Emma Perlman, freshman Jonathan Cordisco, junior Ruhika Prasad, and sophomore Siddharth Suri stand in front of their presentation board and prototype while adviser Meg Kilmer crouches under the board.

Eight students from different grades congregate in the small conference room located in the Counseling Center. The room is quiet, and each student carries a stoic expression. Finally, one student breaks the silence with a simple question: “Who’s got ideas?”

On April 11 they competed at Portland State University against other Portland Public Schools for special awards such as the Audience Favorite and the Most Innovative Solution. The Lincoln team won the award, “Strongest Concept of 2015.” The team consisted of freshmen Jonathan Cordisco and Will Swindell, sophomores Siddharth Suri and Jonathan and Justin Huang, and juniors Ruhika Prasad, Anna Blakely, and Emma Perlman.

The prompt for the challenge was to identify a problem that people living in urban cities face and then attempt to solve it with an innovative solution. The team’s idea was to improve bike safety by creating a bike rack that can hold two bikes side by side with a locking mechanism that secures all parts of the bike. The rack would be drilled into sidewalks and could be used by the public.

Mentors from PSU and school adviser Meg Kilmer guided the students through the challenge. “The process was really trial and error,” Cordisco said. “It was interesting to bounce back and forth between ideas and then finally settle on one.” The team initially wanted to go after portable heaters for homeless people, but then realized that the issue was too sensitive and decided on bike safety.

After researching numerous statistics regarding bike safety and interviewing victims of bike theft, the team starting thinking about ideas for effective bike locks. “In many of the interviews that we conducted, we found out that most victims had their wheels or seat taken,” Blakely said. “We wanted to design a lock that can lock the entire bike and its parts, protecting it from theft.”

The solution, called véLOCK, uses a sliding bar system to hold two bikes in one rack. The name is appropriate because vélo means bike in French. A prototype was created using wood and PVC pipes to mimic the action of locking the bike. Users would roll their bike in between two wooden triangles and secure it with a small locking device, such as a cable lock.

Students hope to implement their solution in the bike parking lot at school. “It could definitely save the school some funds because it holds two bikes for the price of one,” Suri said. Although the prototype was made out of wood, if used on campus, the rack would be made out of heavy metals with rubber coating to protect the bike.

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