Studies have shown that the subway is littered with bacteria, from Enterococcus to Streptococcus (that’s poop and disease-causing bacteria, respectively). Various forms of these bacteria can cause illnesses, especially when trapped in an enclosed environment like a subway car. A team of designers may have a solution.
Designers Li Jiyang, Liu Tao, Qiu Zhen, Zeng Jiayu, and Zhou Shen created the Cyclean system, a conveyor-belt-like hanging subway strap. Before you hang on, you pull one end of the strap loop, which feeds the strap back into the Cyclean’s chamber. Inside there are several cleaning apparatuses: the strap is scrubbed as it coils around a spool, scraping against a rough sponge and getting doused with disinfectant. The side of the chamber pops open to let whomever’s in charge of maintenance replace the sponge and refill the disinfectant. It’s sort of like a bathroom paper towel dispenser, except the towel isn’t discarded–it rotates back into the machine to be cleaned.
The entire unit is self-contained and doesn’t require power, so it can just be hung onto an existing pole. That’s important; it’d be much more expensive to replace all the handrails and poles with something that fights bacteria, not to mention a logistical nightmare; just as an example, my local subway station in Brooklyn can’t figure out how to keep it from raining inside the station when it’s raining outside the station.
The Cyclean was awarded a Red Dot Design Award this year; hopefully it’ll go into production and help keep our hands free of gross little bugs.