23 March 2009

Chalk it up: another funny bike gadget

Dreaming up bike gadgets is something of a boom industry these days. From somewhere called Studio Gelardi comes an idea called Contrail, the velo equivalent of a fox's territorial marking. A chalk dispenser attached to your bike (right) leaves a temporary trail on the road.

It confirms the presence of cyclists to other road users. As we know, cyclists are invisible until one of them jumps a red light.

And with patience, and a Nazca plain of road space, there's the possibility of tracing out a rude message to the bus that's just cut you up on Waterloo Bridge.

It follows the ingenious portable laser bike lane announced a month or two ago (right). An organisation called Altitude claims to be showing this off in October 2009, but so far it only seems to exist in blog comments. Nice idea, but it only works at night on dark streets.

If this sort of laser-beam technology proves workable in daylight, it could be made genuinely useful. How about projecting an arrow on the road surface in front of your bike, to show you what route to take? Then your GPS-based route planner could keep directing you the most efficient way.

Which reminds me about cyclestreets, a cycle-oriented route-planning website currently in beta. It will show you the quietest or fastest journey between two points and contains 15,000 photos of cycling infrastructure. I'll do a comparison of the London part of cyclestreets with Transport for London's cycle route planner in due course.

If I'm not too busy tracing out obscene chalk trails in the road.


  1. The Contrail chalk dispenser sounds as if it would be useful for "Bashing" (Bicycle Hashing). I've often seen the sawdust trails left by the lead runner in a Hashing club on the street both in London and in Cambridge, though I've never encountered its bicycle equivalent.

    It might also handy when I'm leading a more traditional bike ride, and am too impatient to wait for the stragglers at every junction.

  2. Oh dear. I hope it doesn't become too standard, otherwise all I'll see of anyone on a cycle tour with me is going to be a chalk trail!

  3. Rob, we had a request to add bristol.cyclestreets.net via someone from your blog, I've done that. Also I shall look forward to your review of our system, remember its still at beta and doesn't yet do hill, traffic lights or banned turns! cheers,Simon