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Wheels of Success

November 21, 2005
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His idea: to create a sidewalk vehicle to speed commuters to their final destinations once they get off the bus or light rail system.

First, he took his search to the commuters themselves. “I spent a day riding the trains to Tel Aviv, giving out questionnaires. That led me to realize that people don’t want to get tired, sweaty, or ride a bike. Then I bought a bike and started riding it in town,” recalls Wetherhorn. “From firsthand experience, I could see the difference in the time I was spending, and the convenience.”

“I was always drawing and looking for solutions,” he says. But each design had its own challenges. “Every time you think you have come up with the right thing, it brings up more problems. For example, once you have three wheels, you have to figure out how they are going to connect into one hinge to make it simple to fold. One of the things I found out was that even if you have this magical, great invention, if it takes you 10 minutes to put it together, people won’t bother. You have to keep it simple.”

It was a struggle to figure out how to devise a mechanism that would allow for folding, but prevent users from falling off when they turned sharply. But after about a year of work, the Rider was born, and the design landed Wetherhorn a spot as a finalist in his school’s industrial design exhibit.

The Rider’s rechargeable battery takes two hours to charge and lasts up to four hours. The whole device folds up to approximately a meter (3 feet) high. When you turn the handlebars, it moves forward. Turn the handlebars the opposite way, and it brakes. It also has a hand brake, so you can stop immediately if necessary. Two clicks to open it, sit down on a scooter-sized seat, and you’re on your way to the office.

More recently, the Rider won first prize in the Jerusalem-based Organization of Industrialists competition. The design’s success spread internationally when the Singaporean Red Dot design competition named the Rider among its October winners.

Admiring his handiwork in the window of a Jerusalem Municipality display, Wetherhorn says, “It gives you a good feeling when people see my invention and say: ‘Wow, it’s an ingenious idea. Who did it?’”

Wetherhorn envisions people cruising on the Rider on the streets of New York or even Tokyo. While it remains to be seen whether the wheels of the Rider become his personal wheels of fortune, the Israeli designer is happy to have achieved his ultimate goal: solving the problem of urban transportation, thanks to a great apartment left unfound.

For further information, please contact Hadassah College’s School for Industrial Design P.O. Box 1114, Jerusalem 91010, Israel, Tel: 972-02-629-1994 E-mail: [email protected] Web site: www.hadassah-col.ac.il

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