Facebook PixelIntroducing padding to the backsides of 6th generation van seats to protect the knees
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Introducing padding to the backsides of 6th generation van seats to protect the knees

Contrived _voice
Contrived _voice Apr 16, 2022
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Place padding on the backsides of seats in new smaller vans so that people stop having their knees scuffed when they use public vans for the commute.
  • Using buses and vans for transport lowers our carbon footprint and reduces traffic in cities. Making them comfortable encourages their use.
  • Taking damage to the knees whenever the van accelerates or decelerates is undoubtedly not good for anyone's health.
  • In case of an accident, crashing your knees on a soft padding is a lot better than crashing into a metal frame.
How it works
For purposes of demonstration, I will use the Toyota HiAce and Nissan caravan models.
Pre 5th generation models had this design. As you can see the front face looks almost flat so the driver's cabin doesn't take up all that much space. This leaves a lot of room to carry people. Traffic laws allow each of these vans to carry at most 14 passengers at a time. This allows drivers to charge each passenger really low fares while still making a profit. Data from crash tests, however, showed that the flat face meant that there was no crumple space to protect the driver in case of an accident and consequently these models stopped being imported into American and European markets where they would be used as private vans.
The problem starts with the newer models. In African and Asian markets these vans were already being used as public service vehicles. The new angled front face and large driver's cabin was safer but since both models have an approximate length of 200 inches, it took critical space from the back. I heard people calling the newer models "boxes" because of how cramped they are. This means that anyone above a certain height can't fit into one of these vans comfortably. The solution would be to reduce the number of seats and raise fares but that's not a viable option due to the rise in the cost of living.
So the question is, how can you make the commute both safe and comfortable without having to raise the transport costs? I know this is a really surface-level solution so any other ideas are welcome.
Personal Observations
The current fuel scarcity has forced a lot of people back into using public service vehicles since they can't afford to fuel their cars. In most parts of East Africa, the vans have been the primary vehicle for transport for the longest time. They vastly outnumber buses and go everywhere you need them to go. This means the situation at pick-up stops is sad as tall people have to wait for either older vans or newer ones with the front cabin unoccupied to get around. I was impatient and unaware so I just got on the first van that came along, my knees didn't take it very well.
Creative contributions

Angle seats slightly so that there is room sideways

Contrived _voice
Contrived _voice Apr 18, 2022
I saw an Idea by Darko Savic for a circular seating layout and I figured that could ease the problem. What if instead of straight rows of seats, you angled seats in either a circular or zigzag flow layout.
This means that if you tilted yourself sideways you could get some legroom.
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General comments

Goran Radanovic
Goran Radanovic2 years ago
I actually can't believe they don't have this already. Moreover, I'm surprised I didn't think of this since my knees always take a beating while travelling. This would be highly effective on planes. Turbulence and discomfort of limited space for your legs make the journey arduous. Padding would be highly welcome.
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Povilas S
Povilas S2 years ago
Goran Radanovic, Contrived _voice I also thought that this would be beneficial not only in vans but in any vehicles where front seats are close to your knees and you often get them bumped. I was thinking about this problem since childhood :D
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Contrived _voice
Contrived _voice2 years ago
Povilas S It seems like everyone is in acknowledgment of the problem, which makes you wonder why no one has ever thought of doing something. If I had to venture a guess I'd say utility trumps comfort when designing the seats. As long as you have somewhere to sit there is an assumption that you will be comfortable.
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Povilas S
Povilas S2 years ago
Contrived _voice Another reason, which you already touched upon in your contribution, might be that pads will restrict your side movements. There's already little space between the edge of one seat and the backrest of the one in front, attaching pads to the backrest of the seat in front of you will make that space even smaller, the softer the pads (foam rubber, etc.) the more space they will take due to the numerous air gaps in the material.
The best would be to make the backrest of the seat in front soft like a pad itself. At least that part of it which knees face the most. Half of the depth of the seat material could be made from soft foam or similar material and the other half from a harder material to maintain stability.
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Contrived _voice
Contrived _voice2 years ago
Povilas S A small problem with that approach; The design of the chair
The parts I've marked in red are the hard parts that hurt the knees. They are hard because they are the skeleton of the entire seat and they are placed so far back so that the person seating on the seat can't feel them.
The blue part is the stuffing and it takes up all of the space on the front side. Your idea might work if you pushed the framework forward a little and used high-density foam for the stuffing but it's relatively expensive. I checked local prices and it's almost double the price of regular stuffing so I don't think it's a viable option.
The purple part is also part of the skeleton but it's thin and mainly supported by the red part. It's not really much of a bother
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