Innovative Bike Rack Development

Midwest Bus became aware of an opportunity to provide a large number of bike racks for transit busses to the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA). The racks had to be heavy-duty, durable and withstand the forces of the daily bus commute as well as the stresses associated with operating in some rough street conditions. In addition, the racks had to be easy to use, enabling riders to quickly store and retrieve their bikes. More importantly, the design of the bike racks could not infringe on the competitor's patent.

Altair ProductDesign was selected for the project and embarked on research into the requirements, functionality, and usability of transit bus bike racks before beginning the design. Throughout the design process, Altair ProductDesign employed its own leading virtual simulation software, HyperWorks, to validate the design and evaluate the stresses and built several prototypes for user testing and validation. The virtual development process took into consideration all conditions in the operating environment of the racks. One in particular of note was that the bike rack had to withstand loads up to 3,000 lbs as it traveled every day through the bus wash.

The final design supported over 200 lbs for in-use conditions as well as sustaining the 3,000 lbs load of the bus wash. It fits all urban transit buses, protruding less than 7 in. from the front bumper when stowed and less than 36 in. when deployed. It accommodates two bicycles with wheels of 16 in. or larger and automatically locks in the stowed and deployed positions. A simple rotating arm holds the bike in place touching only the rubber on the bikes' tires to avoid the risk of scratching the bike.

This new bike rack system permits people to travel greater distances to bus lines, to which they would not traditionally walk. The upside for transit properties includes increased ridership and the ability to service suburban areas without adding to the fleet or modifying route schedules.

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