Here is an official photo of a prototype of the Nissan NV200, New York’s Taxi of Tomorrow.

Quick: What design flaw will force millions upon millions of people to be seriously inconvenienced, and occasionally injured, year after year after year?

The passenger door handle. It’s vertical and you can only open it using your left hand. You have to rotate or pull the handle, then slide the door.

What’s wrong with this picture?

  • Most people are right-handed. They will extend their right hand horizontally (palm down, thumb pointing left) to open the door. They will fail in that task twice over: The handle requires the other hand at a vertical angle.

  • And even accepting that the design seems to work just fine for the minority that is left-handed, no one in that group naturally tries to open a car door with palm facing right and thumb at top.

  • I am going to assume that the door handle is actually just a flap and you cannot actually wrap your fingers around it to get a grip and pull. I assume you have to use just your fingertips (endmost phalanges) to snap open the latch, and only then does the door flap pop up to become an actual handle. Then you have to drag the door open yourself. And while you’re trying to do that, you’re standing parallel to the door. How easy is it to drag a door transverse to your body?

  • Power doors would not be a luxury item in a case like this. Of course they would break down. So fix them! Or invent a method by which the driver can open the doors manually, as in Japanese taxis.

  • Even accepting that a sliding door has limited advantages, a horizontal handle you pull toward you with either hand, then use to slide the door, would be easy to include. But it won’t be.

    I predict New York City and Nissan will forge right ahead with a design flaw that will inconvenience millions of people millions of times a year and will never, ever get better. The level of inconvenience will never reduce. And some people, like those with arthritis, those with their left hand already full, and those who don’t have a left hand at all, will be shit out of luck.

    By design.

There’s a reason Mercedes-Benz engineers, as I have elsewhere read, insist that their genre of door handles, which are actual handles and can be grabbed onto with both hands by a fireman, are the only safe design.

Over a period of a month and a half, I contacted Nissan PR in Canada and the U.S. and the New York Taxi & Limousine Commission. Only the latter got back to me, not at all substantively.

Contrary evidence

On TV exactly once for five seconds, I saw B-roll that might suggest that the door handle, while still vertical, is raised off a depression and can be grasped with either hand. Even if true, it’s still vertical and your outstretched hand won’t be.

The foregoing posting appeared on Joe Clark’s personal Weblog on 2011.07.27 15:22. This presentation was designed for printing and omits components that make sense only onscreen. (If you are seeing this on a screen, then the page stylesheet was not loaded or not loaded properly.) The permanent link is:

(Values you enter are stored and may be published)



None. I quit.

Copyright © 2004–2024