Video: Dutch inventor's housetrike provides mobile safety for homeless

Bas Sprakel sees Woonfiets as combining transport, safety, storage, shelter & a way to earn money

by John Stevenson   August 12, 2014  

Woonfiets in sleeping mode

Want to live on your bike? Dutch designer Bas Sprakel has come up with a novel cargo bike that extends to provide enough space to sleep.

Sprakel sees his Woonfiets (living bike, or housetrike) as mainly a problem-solver for the homeless, providing a lockable compartment to store their possessions and expanding to turn into a safe place to sleep at night; it can be locked from the inside too.

The Woonfiets is "a bike camper designed to alleviate or even to solve the major problems of the homeless," he says. Here's a quick introductory vide:

He explains that the Woonfiets is quick to set up, and provides a homeless person with a means of transport as well as shelter and storage, so not only can they get about but could potentially use the bike to do odd jobs like delivering shopping. Here's a video taking a longer look at the bike:

Another advantage is that the Woonfiets user would sleep well, says Sprakel. "He will therefore be fitter in the daytime, will feel better and take better care of himself. It will no longer be necessary to numb himself with drugs or alcohol as the user is protected and feels secure in his sturdy cocoon."

The prototype in these pics and videos is made from plywood, but Sprakel says it could me much lighter if made
from moulded plastic.

Sprakel estimates a Woonfiets will cost between a thousand and fifteen hundred Euros, which as Treehugger points out means it would have to be underwritten or covered by donations to be supplied to a homeless person.

The next stage in the development of the Woonfiets will be the creation of prototypes in moulded plastic and Sprakel is looking for donations to help with that effort through the Woonfiets site.

 

14 user comments

Oldest firstNewest firstBest rated

For 'ealth & safety reasons it may not be a good idea to park this next to water (as shown) & then try to sleep inside. Local Wags after a night out could easily release the hand brake (assuming one is fitted) in order to test its buoyancy...... having said this, it does appear to be fitted with a porthole which could come in handy for the occupant.

Timsen

posted by Timsen [40 posts]
12th August 2014 - 13:36

3 Likes

This fellow could do with a stint in a homeless charity to help get some wider perspectives on the issue before using it to justify his privileged flight-of-fancy hobby. The problem probably isn't a lack of £1500 flight-of-fancy portable coffins.

posted by vbvb [254 posts]
12th August 2014 - 13:36

8 Likes

Now I'm not typically a naysayer, I try to be optimistic, particularly regarding new innovations, but really?

"It will no longer be necessary to numb himself with drugs or alcohol as the user is protected and feels secure in his sturdy cocoon."

Ah, yes. I can insert myself in this claustrophobic box, vulnerable to anything from mischievous idiots to a strong wind, presumably after extracting and leaving unattended my few wordly possessions. I will then sleep soundly in the knowledge of my impending scallywag-instigated appointment with the nearest hill. This alone will free me from the tyranny of drugs and alcohol.

Last night I would have considered trading a very loud baby for a really nice bike.

posted by notfastenough [3307 posts]
12th August 2014 - 14:00

5 Likes

effing patronising IMHO Angry

andybwhite's picture

posted by andybwhite [198 posts]
12th August 2014 - 14:11

29 Likes

We all live in a yellow submarine
Yellow submarine, yellow submarine
We all live in a yellow submarine
Yellow submarine, yellow submarine

or

Am I living in a box
Am I living in a cardboard box
Am I living in a box
Am I living in a cardboard box
Am I living in a box

Seriously: it's a cool contraption – still only a nice hobby IMHO.

posted by marche [24 posts]
12th August 2014 - 16:09

21 Likes

Or put it that way:
The bike is safe to sleep in. The plot of land ain't.

Never step in the Central Park at night, they say. Even packed in a box.

posted by marche [24 posts]
12th August 2014 - 16:14

29 Likes

Well what can I say.... Rolling On The Floor Rolling On The Floor Rolling On The Floor Party D Oh Rolling On The Floor

Bonkers Big Grin

Endorphines going up and adrenaline going down, who needs drugs?

posted by banzicyclist2 [226 posts]
12th August 2014 - 19:47

18 Likes

marche wrote:

Should it not be

Am I living in a box
Am I living in a plywood box
Am I living in a box
Am I living in a plywood box
Am I living in a box

posted by Beatnik69 [123 posts]
12th August 2014 - 20:07

30 Likes

Here's a better idea: strap a tent to your handlebars and give the left over £1300 to a decent homeless shelter/charity

posted by balmybaldwin [38 posts]
12th August 2014 - 23:31

26 Likes

Ok. We all agree. It's too easy to comment.
Let's move on.

posted by marche [24 posts]
13th August 2014 - 8:17

22 Likes

Bas Spricles Woonfiets is a wonderfull inovation.And the reaction by supposed cyclist shows how little they understand the homeless situation,and the potencial of bicycles.

ronyrash

posted by 123qwe [2 posts]
13th August 2014 - 15:32

11 Likes

123qwe wrote:
Bas Spricles Woonfiets is a wonderfull inovation.And the reaction by supposed cyclist shows how little they understand the homeless situation,and the potencial of bicycles.

Would this be the homeless situation where people find themselves in a situation so dark that substance-induced oblivion has massive appeal, and takes a higher priority than food, shelter or in fact ownership of £1500 coffin/bikes which can easily be sold or swapped for a hit or ten?

Would this be the homeless situation where everything can be, and usually is, stolen from you the minute your back is turned?

Would this be the homeless situation where people struggling to find shelter for the night wouldn't be allowed to take a bike into a hostel? Without a room for the night, homeless people are regularly assaulted, often while asleep. You think they would feel protected from mindless drunken fools in this thing?

Or would this be the homeless situation where lucid, sober, straight-thinking people with the mental clarity to basically start working as a courier while having the disciplined mindset and routine to maintain a bike and keep separate their cargo from their personal belongings, accept a coffin/bike worth 5+ months room rent, don't sell it on, but happily set about earning money from customers who trust that (and will pay) an individual who lacks a fixed address will actually deliver the cargo to the destination? Where would this situation be, disneyworld?!

Like I say, I try to be optimistic about innovations, and projects like Qubeka prove the huge power of the bicycle to improve people's lives, but I don't currently think this is in the same vein. If you have solid research or case studies to prove me wrong, then please do so, because anything that gets people out of the homeless trap I am all for.

Last night I would have considered trading a very loud baby for a really nice bike.

posted by notfastenough [3307 posts]
13th August 2014 - 17:00

14 Likes

123qwe wrote:
Bas Spricles Woonfiets is a wonderfull inovation.And the reaction by supposed cyclist shows how little they understand the homeless situation,and the potencial of bicycles.

Alright Bas, how's it going?

posted by farrell [1510 posts]
14th August 2014 - 10:00

5 Likes

There is a chance, just a chance, that Holland may be a whole different country to England. It may have different values, it may even be a mostly well-behaved, caring place. There might even be a place in it for oddities like this. I don't know, I'm English and apparently in the company of many who know homelessness well.

posted by sidesaddle [70 posts]
14th August 2014 - 22:33

2 Likes