The Elephant and Castle cycle bypass was described recently in the Mayor's Answers as being 'complete'. Evidently they'd missed the word 'bollocks' off the end.
But it has something to offer the cyclist. It's so tortuous and badly signed that progress around it is slow and unintuitive. It's therefore quite an adventure: you find yourself lost, in new parts of the neighbourhood you never knew existed. Some of them are evidently twinned with Prypiat, and you can't get out of there quick enough.
But others are a pleasant surprise. Yesterday, for instance, we were testing the Hampton-Court solution to the bypass: can you get round by following one side of the maze? And during one stopoff to consult the GPS, we spotted the London South Bank University's student show, which had two interesting bike-related projects from postgrad engineers on display.
The 'Ecocourier', by Liam Johnstone (right), is a heavy-duty carrier bike with a sideways-tilting frame that is said to make it zippy and manoeuvrable round even the narrowest and most jagged spaces, in contrast to the tanker-like machines you see delivering sandwiches. Those square, sturdy bakfietser they use in the Netherlands are fine on their native cycle lanes the width of a tennis court, but they'd be useless on the corsetry squeezes and fly-half side-steps of, say, a London Cycle Superhighway.
And for sheer cool, we loved Andrea Mighali's all-terrain wheeled skates (right), a sort of bicycle minus frame, saddle and handlebars. They have handheld cable brakes which don't just let you stop, they also (by locking the wheels) enable you to step up stairs, if you have to escape Daleks for example.
Of course, only a tiny percentage of student projects end up going into production, and only a fraction of those will succeed commercially. But it's interesting that bike-related projects seem to be so popular and so strongly encouraged at the moment; the above weren't the only ones.
In trying to grope our way back to the bypass, we also stumbled on a solar-powered (model) car demonstration, where we were given a yo-yo each as a token of esteem. For the Elephant and Castle bike by-pass it seemed somehow appropriate.
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