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Gizmo: Leave a Bike Trail
Fix a Contrail device to the back of your bike, and trace your path across the city.

Drawing on the sidewalk with chalk is one of those things urban children do when growing up. Now they can mechanize the process-by having their bicycles leave trails of coloured chalk behind as they ride.

It hasn’t hit mass-production yet, but a company called ULICU has a solution. The Contrail is a device that fixes to the back of the bicycle and trails washable, non-toxic chalking fluid made from eco-friendly pigments. It’s like a TRON light-cycle, but chalkier. Aimed not just at kids, but at artists, non-profits and community organizations, Contrail can be used for anything from leading bike-to-school rides to large velocipede fundraisers.

Contrail is also a way for a cyclist to mark his or her own path, or to map out a potential bike lane. In Toronto’s case, one might suggest it could become a colourful protest against the city’s plans to close bike lanes. And there can be no charges laid for damage, since when the rain falls, the trails of chalk are washed away, and the left route a blank canvas waiting the next fleet of Contrail users to hit the road.

ULICU (oo-lee-soo), the company behind the project, named after the Serbo-croatian word for ‘street,’ A social innovation company that rethinks the ways communities and products interact, it joined forces with Brooklyn-based Industrial Designer Pepin Gelardi, whose background is in developing sustainable product solutions and eco-effective manufacturing strategies. Studio Gelardi was a recent finalist in Design21’s Power to the Pedal design competition for its design for the Contrail.

“The goal is to encourage a new cycle of biking participation by allowing the biking community to leave a unique mark on the road and to reclaim this crucial shared space,” says Gelardi. ‘Contrail lines get brighter as community grows.”

Right now, each fully functioning prototype costs about $1,000 to manufacture, but it could be sold for as little as $29 if they can order parts in large enough quantities. The company wants to start by fabricating 2,000 units, but they need help: To assist in fundraising, the company has started a Kickstarter page. The sooner they can raise the cash, the sooner the rest of us can start making our mark on the street.

UPDATE: Good News-The manufactures of Contrail have reached their Kickstarter target and are now going into mass production.

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