San Francisco Makeathon: Kickoff


This is reposted from the SF Makeathon website. This is part of a series of posts cataloguing San Francisco’s Makeathon event, a 48 competition to design and prototype a product that improves cycling in San Francisco. Original post URL:


With a few words from TechShop founder, Jim Newton, Indiegogo director of hardware, Kate Drane, and Deputy Innovation Officer, Shannon Spanhake, the SF Makeathon kicked off. There was little, if any fanfare. Not that the participants were subdued — far from it –one man slashed the air with his custom-built Mace Windu purple light saber. It’s just that each team was primarily focused on starting product development. Nobody wanted to waste a single minute. The event moved up to the third floor of TechShop around 6:45pm and got down to business.

Tasked with creating a physical product “that improves cycling in San Francisco,” the four teams developed general product concepts:

Project 1: a new bicycle parking system in which locking devices that secure both the frame and wheels are attached to existing infrastructure (like parking meters). The goal is to improve bicycle ridership and security with a low-cost installation.

Project 2: coding an LED pad that connects to a mobile device to offer complex feedback on route-finding, such as “warmer”, “colder”, “destination on left/right”, etc. This pad would allow cyclists to focus on the road as well as provide off-road directions.

Project 3: an integrated LED light system that signals turns, brakes, and improves the visibility of cyclists for drivers, pedestrians, and other cyclists. As a safety-oriented innovation, this team hopes to work with the City to change current policy and encourage widespread adoption of the LEDs.

Project 4: a bike lock system in which extra long, pedal activated U-locks are installed in the ground. The cylinder, or female end of the U-lock, can be carried by the cyclist or distributed by a local vendor (such as a nearby store).

Jason, Krista, Kate, Ben, Mel and I begin documenting the process. Work on all fronts progresses steadily, interrupted only by pizza, Red Bull, and goofy videos. Jason, Krista, Kate and Ben headed out for the night… Mel and I are here for the long haul. It’s almost midnight; the teams are ready to start prototyping!


–Sam (Mayor’s Office of Civic Innovation)