'Go Fara' aims to revolutionize bike commutes

An industrial designer in England introduces a biking system that uses a self-powered smart card to track employees' health and environmental footprint.

The "Tim" bike includes a self-powered smart card to track usage.
Adam Taylor

For many urban dwellers who live close to work, commuting by bike is like eating vegetables. You know you should, but sometimes you just want the burger and fries.

Industrial designer Adam Taylor, who is working toward a master's degree in future design in England, has devised a system that he thinks will help motivate commuters to pedal to the office. The two key features are the system's self-powered smart card and the bike itself, which is a beauty.

On the blog Bicycle Design, Taylor says he envisions the bike, which he calls "Tim," and the system, which he calls "Go Fara," to be bought in bulk by major corporations that institute a "green employee of the week" rewards program. Using the smart card, the employer has access to mileage and time stats to reward the highest achievers.

The bike itself features an internal dynamo hub that powers the OLED front light, e-ink display, smart card system, and cyclometer. The frame is made of polycarbonate, and Taylor says the bike can be "recycled with ease once its lifetime is over."

Taylor has also designed a simple conversion kit that renders the Tim bike stationary for those who cannot commute by bike but want to participate in the program and get a little exercise at work. The rear wheel essentially unlocks and rotates out to release a roller system stored inside the frame that applies resistance to recreate the friction of a normal road.

As with so many student projects, the Go Fara vision may be overly ambitious. After all, no matter how pretty the parts, laziness can easily trump all. But with the right incentives in place, Taylor's smart card system could motivate some -- if not the masses -- to choose the bike over the bus or car.

Employers could track individual distances and times as part of a commuting by bike rewards program. Adam Taylor