The Flintstones’ foot-operated vehicles may not be so archaic after all.
Cameron Van Dyke, a graduate student in the Penny W. Stamps School of Art & Design, is the creator of Future Cycles — bicycle-automobile hybrids that combine both the durability of a car and the low-energy cost of a bicycle. Two of his vehicles, one featuring a sleek frame to contrast the other’s boxy dimensions, were featured in the Detroit Auto Show last week.
Van Dyke said his wife helped inspire the project, in which he designed two vehicles named “Cyclone” and “Zeppelin” as part of his master’s thesis.
“We’re both avid bicyclists, so the idea that we could create a vehicle that would allow us to do the bicycling that we enjoy but also get the things we needed out of a car was one of the main influences for the designs,” he said.
Van Dyke said one goal of the project was to create hybrid vehicles that would be accepted in a transportation culture dominated by automobiles. This thinking influenced the design of “Cyclone,” which is meant to capture both the likeness of early modern vehicles and the style of vehicles today.
“I wanted to make something that is iconically car-like, so I began by looking at Model-T’s,” Van Dyke said. “I took some of what I saw, and meshed it with today’s current retro style of vehicles to make it look like it had been stamped out of a factory, and have a high level of finish.”
Van Dyke mainly worked alone to complete both of the Future Cycles, though he received grants from the School of Art & Design. His wife assisted with design and maintains the Future Cycles website.
Van Dyke said he noticed the University’s Solar Car Team’s vehicle was on display while visiting the Auto Show in past years, so he decided to ask the event organizers for permission to display his Future Cycles. He said visitors to the show provided positive feedback.
“We talked to hundreds of people,” he said. “It was really encouraging. We found that people were really interested in the vehicle because the idea that you could drive a cheaper vehicle, save money and have a health benefit seemed to really resonate with a lot of people.”
For now, Van Dyke says he is focused on completing his thesis for his master’s degree, though attending the Detroit Auto Show helped him brainstorm ideas for new potential Future Cycles designs.
Both of the Future Cycles vehicles will be on display in the Duderstadt Center gallery on North Campus starting Feb. 24.