Bicycle Ambulance Trailer makes its appearance at the New Designer Show in London

In recent months Transaid has collaborated with the Bournemouth University Product Design student Douglas Powell to develop an enhanced design for the bicycle ambulance trailer, one of the transport solutions that the charity uses to address the problem of access to health care services for rural communities in sub-Saharan Africa.

Douglas, who grew up in Zimbabwe and has family in Tanzania, has seen transport related problems first hand. He approached Transaid last year to discuss the transport solutions implemented by the charity and find out more about the bicycle ambulance itself. Inspired by the case studies and the impact of the project to date, he decided to use this solution to prototype his final year project.

Douglas said: ‘It’s a serious problem that can be solved – 80 per cent of maternal deaths can be prevented by getting the women to hospital in a short period of time, but the average distance that someone has to travel to a hospital from the rural areas is between 14 and 40 kilometres. So the design is able to be attached to a bicycle but by changing the tow arm it can be attached to a motorcycle for those longer distances.’

The Bicycle Ambulance trailer was specifically designed for rural areas in sub Saharan Africa, with an innovative approach to addressing rural accessibility problems while being deeply rooted at community level. The project takes into account the economics of creating a locally sustainable ambulance service.

The intent of the project is for the ambulance trailer to be built in the country of intended use, using readily available materials and components. Douglas has provided a detailed construction manual that guides the builders through the fabrication process. One of the main intentions of this project is to raise awareness and interest in the bicycle ambulance at a local level, whilst increasing a sense of community ownership.

Caroline Barber, Head of Programmes at Transaid said: ‘The bicycle ambulance as a transport solution for remote areas of Africa has proved to be a very successful one if implemented appropriately. We’ve been delighted to work with Douglas to develop the concept further to make it more ‘user friendly’ as ultimately it will benefit communities we work with and save lives. We already look into trailing this design in Africa and introducing Douglas to our partners. The fact that this trailer can be used for both bicycles and motorcycles is very interesting as we are seeing a boom in motorcycle ownership in many African countries.’

To prototype the bicycle ambulance trailer Douglas received a bursary of £1,000 from the James Dyson Foundation; he has also won the People’s Choice Award at the Festival of Design Show in Bournemouth. Prior to the exhibiting the trailer at the Design Centre in London for the New Designer Show, Douglas showed his project at the Bournemouth University’s Festival of Design and Technology amongst 200 final year design and creative technology students.

Bicycle ambulance trailer designed by Douglas has been donated to Transaid and together with the model built earlier this year by Mike Daly, an Ambassador of Transaid, will be displayed throughout the year at trade shows and events of corporate members.