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Turning Your Bike Into a Paintbrush

Theo Schell-Lambert | GOOD Magazine

November 03, 2010

When the Brooklyn-based designers Pepin Gelardi and Teresa Herrmann entered a competition to design a bike accessory that would draw new cyclists, they began by examining the reasons people avoided riding. “The number one barrier to entry was that people felt unsafe and outnumbered by cars,” Gelardi says. “We wanted to create a device that proved to potential cyclists that a community exists.”

Figuring that a simple way to extol that community was to literally chart its crisscrossing paths, the pair came up with Contrail, a receptacle filled with colorful chalking fluid that attaches to a bicycle’s frame and leaves a bright line in the rider’s wake. “It turns your bike into a paintbrush,” says Gelardi, explaining that the rear-wheel action powers the device’s pump. In the aggregate, the effect—which the pair recently showcased at Los Angeles’s Opportunity Green conference—is striking and sweet: a grosgrain of distinct but weaving lines that seems to point up the cycling (and the urban) experience. It is also low-impact. The fluid is nontoxic and washes off within a few days.

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