Accessibility April 27, 2020
This adventure vehicle for paraplegics is stylish to look at & safe to ride
The philosophy of Dvaita led emerging designer Vidyut Naidu to come up with a blueprint of an adventure bike for paraplegics. Vidyut, who is a student at the prestigious Royal College of Art in London, designed the bike as part of his final year project.
Vidyut Naidu, an emerging designer, was given the future of travel as a final project while doing a course in Intelligent Mobility at London’s Royal College of Art (RCA). Students had to look at it keeping in mind parameters like the limited area of natural resources, urban transport and design for inclusive societies.
The RCA is among the most renowned universities in the field of art and design and nurtured some of the world’s top car designers.
The brief led 26-year-old Vidyut, who is inspired by the ancient philosophy of Dvaita, to look at people with disabilities, among the most marginalised in the world today.
Dvaita looks at achieving tranquillity by looking at the synergy between the mind and the body, i.e., the physical and the spiritual. The application of such of a philosophy led me to research thrill-seeking activities that usually link the mind and the body through various biological processes. The variety of activities on offer to people with disabilities is nearly half of those on offer to people with no disability at all. – Vidyut Naidu, Royal College of Art, London
Few adventure vehicles for disabled people in the market
Most adventure vehicles in the market are not designed taking disabled people’s needs and aspirations into account at all.
“What I discovered was that the vehicles used are not designed to include a wide range of people or disabilities. The vehicles had parts retrofitted in order to be included in these activities and they weren’t empowering enough for people to actually experience the link between physical and spiritual”, says Vidyut.
Vidyut decided to focus on paraplegics as the focal point as they have the will or the mindset but may not have the physical capability to follow it through.
Before starting his work, Vidyut spent considerable time speaking to disabled people as well as adventure holiday specialists. He was clear that his design has to make business sense. This way the idea will not get lost.
Vidyut christened his vehicle ‘Silverback’. “This is after the gorillas in the African wild because of the stance of the vehicle and the philosophy of the aesthetic from these imposing yet majestic mammals”, he adds.
Features of Silverback
To compensate for the lack of mobility of users, the rear seats of Silverback are designed to enable easier accessibility for paraplegic users.
The seat is broken into three pieces, with the two side seats securing the legs while the central seat supports the spine. These operate on different swing arms and pivots to allow for maximum accessibility. The width between the rear wheels allow wheelchair users to fit in between with enough space on either side.
The frame of the vehicle has various holding points for users to feel secure. There is also support for the sternum and the posture is dynamic and offers comfortable riding. I was able to design that after carefully looking and postural examples from the Paralympics”, says Vidyut.
The Silverback was all set to be showcased at the 2020 Royal College of Art Intelligent Mobility final show but that was called off due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Now back home with his family in India, he is waiting for news about a virtual showing.
Committed to building a socially inclusive world
Speaking to NewzHook from his home in Gurugram, Vidyut is clear that designing for the norm is not something that excites him.
“There is nothing out there that pushes the envelope for people with disabilities, something that will let them have fun”, says this young man who is clearly passionate about building a socially inclusive world. “When you start designing for the norm, you miss out on a lot of things”.
Among the people who inspires him is Martyn Ashton, the legendary mountain biker who was paralysed in an accident and lost his legs. Ashton went on to recreate the mountain bike and is a champion mountain biker.
Through the show, Vidyut says he hopes to trigger a discussion and create a conversation about inclusive design in mobility.
“My main goal with this project was to highlight the importance of inclusive design in mobility and to start a discussion on developing and designing more option for a demographic group that gets overlooked due to their disability. They are still people and have the same desires and aspirations as everyone. To reduce the level of segregation by way of type of vehicle also factors into this”.
- GWL 01- A retrofitted bike that looks stylish & is great to drive for people with & without disabilities
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