Wednesday, 25 March 2009

Contrail: Color your way through town

Have a look at this elegant idea, named Contrail: US product designer Pepin Gelardi shows how cyclists can color their own space on the road while riding, creating a visible, colorful trail of chalk lines - silently showcasing the community of urban bicycle riders.

First of all: You can't buy this product yet. The illustrations here are a contest entry found at the social design network Design 21, whose mission is "to inspire social activism through design". According to the UNESCO-partnered project's website, they "connect people who want to explore ways design can positively impact our many worlds, and who want to create change here, now".

Following their own mantra "better design for the greater good", Design 21 announced the design contest Power To The Pedal - closing for entries in April 2008. Pepin Gelardi and his co-author Teresa Herrmann didn't make it all the way to the podium with the Contrail concept, but ended up as one of a few finalists, among a total of 221 entries.

Gelardi reports that he will be doing a working prototype before summer 2009, and have already got loads of positive response.

No wonder.

Check out the Contrail idea in his own words:


THE ROAD: A bicyclist on the road often feels that they are under assault by passing vehicles. Particularly in cities where bicyclists seem rare, motor vehicles aggressively dominate the road, discouraging potential bicyclists from joining in.

THE CONTRAIL: Contrail is a small bright bike accessory that allows bicyclists to color in their own space on the road. It’s like playing with sidewalk chalk, but faster.

THE WORKS: Contrail holds 200 grams of chalk, enough for about 20 miles (32km) of riding. It functions much like a carpenter’s chalk line: A small amount of powdered chalk is filtered through a brush inside the device and picked up on a felt wheel. The felt wheel transfers this chalk onto the rear tire leaving a fine layer. As chalk builds up, the tire leaves a faint line of color on the roadbed. This is you contrail. It is a colorful and ephemeral representation of your path.

JOIN IN: Making your mark is easy. (1) The device snaps onto the rear seat tube just below the seatstays with the felt wheel resting lightly on the rear tire. A custom molded rubber band holds Contrail in place. Rubber shims may be used to insure a tight fit. (2) Once you begin to ride, you’ve already started to contribute to the strength of the community and the safety of your fellow riders. Your path becomes evident and lets others know where you’ve been. (3) The more riders present, the brighter the community’s paths become. Motor vehicles become more aware of our presence and potential riders find themselves encouraged to join in.

NOTES: The housing is made from durable recycled HDPE and the felt wheel from recycled cotton. We chose chalk because it is eco-sensitive, non-toxic and temporary. Like a jet’s contrail, the lines on the road will fade with time and rain. Chalk powder refills are already available in red, white, blue and green at hardware stores world-wide. Or they could be purchased in a full rainbow of colors online.

["skittle bikes" photo by Jessi Pervola, used with permission]

1 comment:

Robert said...

Fantastic idea! Let all bicyclists know they are not alone. I'll take one!