Contrail is a route-marking gizmo riders attach to bikes and which, over time, creates a snazzy trail. The idea won a design competition in 2008, and went viral in early 2009 after it was picked up by BikeSnobNYC, but is vapourware no longer as the folks behind the scheme have just gone through the $10,000 funding ceiling on Kickstarter.com.
Pepin Gelardi of New York, the Contrail developer, said: “We want to encourage people to ride bicycles in their everyday lives. Contrail turns your bicycle into a paintbrush leaving a temporary mark of your bicycle’s path.
“You attach it to your bike and as you ride, it leaves a colourful line behind you. When many people ride with Contrail, the result is a colourful path which illustrates where bicycles are riding. We envision artists, non-profits and community organisations using our product to create art, promote their events and celebrate shared spaces.
“Our goal is to use Contrail in many creative ways to get more people on bicycles and to create safer shared spaces in communities around the world.”
If a great number of cyclists were equipped with Contrails they would leave a swathe of brightly-coloured lines: a do-it-yourself bike lane.
Contrail uses washable, non-toxic chalking fluid made from eco-friendly pigments. The lines on the road will fade with time and rain.
With $10,000 raised from 200+ pledges, Contrail can now become a reality. It could sell for $29 per unit. Pledgers get first dibs.
Non-profit organisations will be gifted units.
One of the ideas Contrails would like to see happen is a Safe Routes to School project.
“We want to develop a system of safe routes to bicycle to school. Local businesses will help fund signage and extra crossing guards to ensure that these routes are as safe as can be. To celebrate and illustrate the new paths, over a designated week students will ride from school to their neighbourhoods and back using donated Contrails. The result will be a path of lines that converge and grow brighter as they approach the school.”
Contrail has the potential to be used in many ways: perhaps it could even be used on led group rides with the leader marking a trail for others to follow?