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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

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.


John has been writing about bikes and cycling for over 30 years since discovering that people were mug enough to pay him for it rather than expecting him to do an honest day's work.

He was heavily involved in the mountain bike boom of the late 1980s as a racer, team manager and race promoter, and that led to writing for Mountain Biking UK magazine shortly after its inception. He got the gig by phoning up the editor and telling him the magazine was rubbish and he could do better. Rather than telling him to get lost, MBUK editor Tym Manley called John’s bluff and the rest is history.

Since then he has worked on MTB Pro magazine and was editor of Maximum Mountain Bike and Australian Mountain Bike magazines, before switching to the web in 2000 to work for Along with founder Tony Farrelly, John was on the launch team for and subsequently became editor in chief of Future Publishing’s group of cycling magazines and websites, including Cycling Plus, MBUK, What Mountain Bike and Procycling.

John has also written for Cyclist magazine, edited the BikeMagic website and was founding editor of before handing over to someone far more representative of the site's main audience.

He joined in 2013. He lives in Cambridge where the lack of hills is more than made up for by the headwinds.

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