As a grad student at London School of Economics, Kathryn Carlson went everywhere on her bike, from classes to the grocery store to her local pub. She found herself missing just one thing about driving–having a trunk.
Like most people who cycle around for everyday errands, she’d pull up somewhere and wish there was a way to leave her belongings on the back of the bike, or that she’d had a place to store an extra jacket or pair of shoes at the beginning of the day. Eventually, Carlson had an idea for a solution, and started wondering why it didn’t exist. “One day, a friend just said, why don’t you make it?” Carlson says. “I thought, hell, if no one else is going to create the product I most wanted as a daily utilitarian cyclist, I should do it. And so the journey began.”
Carlson spent the next four years developing her creation, with some recent help from Guts & Glory and Tomorrow Lab. The Buca Boot–the team’s design for a bike basket that transforms into a locked, immovable trunk–successfully raised funding on Kickstarter on October 23.
When open, the Buca Boot looks like a spacious basket, with enough room to hold groceries, a yoga mat, a bag, and a few extras. Canvas panniers open up at each side to hold even more. But the Boot gets most interesting when it’s closed. Custom-designed hinges lock the lid in place, and the whole thing securely attaches to a bike rack from the inside. A helmet, a purse, or other smaller items can be stored inside without risk of theft (unless, of course, the entire bike is stolen). The compartment is also watertight, so whatever you keep inside is safe from rain or snow.
It’s the kind of change that seems small at first–after all, bike baskets aren’t exactly new–but can alter the whole experience of biking, which the designers hope will get more cyclists on the road.
“Often as a designer you’re faced with the opportunity to make bike riding more fun for existing cyclists, but Kathryn’s objective was really to get more people on their bikes and choose cycling over driving a car,” said Pepin Gelardi, who led the design work at Tomorrow Lab. “I think what we stumbled on was that we had the opportunity to do more than just give people better storage. Yes, it’s a superior bike basket. But it’s also a way to store rain gear so you have the ability to be more spontaneous, and ride without the fear of getting trapped in a storm, for instance. And it also allows you to more easily plan your day. Because you can leave items in your bike for later engagements, riding your bike doesn’t mean having to ride home first. The ability to carry things with you and keep them safe throughout the day is kind of powerful.”
After some final refinements to the design, the Buca Boot will go into production shortly, with the first Kickstarter orders likely shipping early next summer.