Mark Prommel, of Pensa, with the Merge prototype bicycle. Photo by Matthew Taub.

“New York City is super dense,” said Mark Prommel, partner and director of the design firm Pensa, at his DUMBO office. “There are constant traffic constraints, but also an ebb and flow. We wanted to design a bike that accommodated a rider jockeying in this space with a tight, simple, nimble ride.”

He was explaining his firm’s unveiling of Merge, a bicycle they created to compete with four other cities for the Ultimate Urban Bicycle Award.  Chicago, San Francisco, Portland and Seattle will also reveal their designs, which are based on the distinct urban experiences and necessities from each city. The public will vote on which bike they find most impressive.

After brainstorming sessions that ranged from a forward-propelled harpoon to storage space for a full pizza and six pack of beer, Pensa went practical. The result is a sleek design with useful features that aren’t overstated.

“We wanted you to have contraptions when you wanted them, but which could also be folded away,” Prommel said. “Things like baskets and storage can be cumbersome and affect the balance of gravity. But at other times, they’re useful.”

The result is a subtle reworking of the traditional bike frame to include collapsible contraptions: cargo storage and rain protection for the rear wheel that can sprout out and be stored away. At the front of the bike is a spot for a phone or tablet device that includes a USB port for charges devices, powered by the cyclist’s pedaling.

Also include in the design are embedded lights in the front and back of the frame that operate frontward, backward and outward with the rider pedaling their operation.

To vote for the Brooklyn-representation in the contest, see

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