Andrew Last commutes to work on a bicycle he designed and built himself.
Andrew is a metalsmith and lecturer in the School of Art, but he describes himself fundamentally as a maker. He makes sculpture and jewellery, but has also made houses, boats, ukeleles and a bass guitar. And every year he makes himself a new bicycle.
He has been investigating the potential benefits of recumbent bicycle designs that challenge the market dominance of traditional diamond-frame bicycles, to achieve reduced wind resistance for more efficient cycling. Commuting to work is much more satisfying (and comfortable) on a bike of his own manufacture, and each ride provides an opportunity to evaluate its performance and think about how it could be improved. Andrew hopes that his daily commute on an unusual and noticeable bicycle is helping to normalise cycling as a legitimate transport option, both for drivers to become accustomed to sharing the road with cyclists, and for others to consider cycling a viable alternative to fossil fuel-dependent transport.
Andrew is also testing the potential for producing viable DIY alternatives to mass-produced consumer bicycles, using recycled materials. New Zealand society has had a strong DIY ethic in the past, which Andrew is concerned to see being eroded in an increasingly consumer-based society. It is common now to pay for things which many people used to do for themselves. Andrew sees making his own bicycles as affirming that DIY mentality and self-empowerment.