Design student produces $30 cardboard bike


Bikes are usually shipped in cardboard boxes but could they be made out of the material also? As part of Sheffield Hallam University’s Creative Sparks exhibition of student work, product design student Phil Bridge from Stockport is demonstrating just such a theory. His cardboard bike is likely to garner a lot of interest from cyclists, and would-be cyclists.

Bridge reckons his bike could be mass-produced for £15 a piece, with the Hexacomb cardboard frame recycled and the metal components re-used on the next bike on the production line.

A cardboard bike – even one made with exterior-quality Hexacomb – may not pass CEN testing standards. These new EU standards are designed to test bicycles made with standard frame-building materials.

Bridge said: “The lightweight quality of the cardboard, combined with its low cost, means it is possible to create a bargain-bike that is also less susceptible to thieves.” (Er, might they not set fire to it instead?)

Bike theft is a major disincentive to cycling. According to a French study, only 25 per cent of cyclists re-buy a new bike after a theft, and of these 10 per cent buy a cheaper bike than they had before (20 per cent cheaper on average). A further 23 per cent won’t return to cycling at all.


Bridge was interviewed on Radio Sheffield:

Will it go soggy in the rain?
“No it’s inherently waterproof at the point of manufacture and it’s been used in outdoors. In some instances it’s been used in housing and for advertising hoardings.”

Does it go fast?

“Not particularly, no. It was never designed to be a performance bike. It was designed for everyday use, so people riding it slowly to get from place to place – not the Tour de France!”

How long would one last?It depends on how much you use it. If you use it the way most people in England use bikes, it’ll probably last forever because it’ll be sat in your shed! Seriously, it’s designed to last for about six months of constant use.”

How do you see a cardboard bike being used?
“The idea was that it would be a sponsorship from a company who would produce these and get some advertising it. And once you’ve used it, you’d return it they’d give you another one.”


For what it’s worth I love the idea of a cardboard bike. I don’t think it would detract from sales of ‘real’ bikes. Mind you, talking about flimsy bikes, they are already exist. Wally-Mart bikes already ship with cardboard cranks, and cardboard rear stays, and paper-maché derailleurs. I know this because I have to try and fix them every week on the Go Ride cycle training course I deliver at a local primary school.

Kids turn up complaining they have difficulty braking and changing gear. This is no real wonder given the tat their parents have unwittingly bought them. Genuine cardboard bikes would likely be an improvement on the dross I try – and generally fail – to make rideable.

Even when bikes are reasonably OK, parents fail to maintain them. Last week I had a girl on my course with a defective front brake. The v-brake had failed so one of the girl’s parents decided it could be made road-worthy with a dash of Duct tape.

(No longer) too blue for Orange


Telephony giant Orange is soon to start an online balloon race across 1500+ websites. was signed up for the promo via a viral video marketing agency but then this email arrived:

“We’re sorry, but we’ve taken a look at your site and we can’t use it in the race…your site has something rude or naughty on it.”

This caused a big double-take. Rude? Naughty? Surely there’s been some sort of mistake?

Hmm, but on the day in question, the Orange researchers obviously landed on this story. The pic of three blokes in Lycra skin-shorts is obviously too much for Orange. The shorts, you see, are red…and kinda revealing.

Fair enough…except that one of the other sites signed up for the race is The Sun Online, a racy site full of pix of semi-clad young women.

So, how come an innocent pic of three, ahem, Poles is deemed “rude” but a site with pix of naked women is fair game?

UPDATE: Ah, the power of the internet. A couple of hours after this story went online I got an OK from Poke London, the clever and rather snazzy digital agency – with fab toilets – that’s doing the balloon race for Orange. Poke’s Mike Pearson said:

Hi Carlton

I’m one of the team that’s working on the balloon race project. As you say, it’s the three cyclists in the Sildenafil story and their enhanced peripheral blood flow that have most likely caused our moderation team to reject the site.

We have a lot of sites applying to take part and the moderation team have to make a lot of individual judgments on site content. I’ve looked at it and I’ve had a word with them, as I think they’ve been a bit too cautious in this instance.

I’ve set your site to approved, and I hope you’ll take part in hosting the race.

Yippee. The race starts soon. Go grab yourself a balloon, there are loads of prizes on offer! Click on that link or on the floating racoon (?) on the left, down there in the corner.

Top ten vodcasts

I’ve just been fiddling with the text on my video podcast’s iTunes feed. While I was there I clicked on the Libsyn stats package. I thought you might like to see the results for the most popular episodes. They’re listed below in order of popularity. 56 episodes are hosted on Libsyn but these are the top ten.

Best Tour de France footage ever filmed? 05/10/2007
Pre-production footage from the IMAX movie ‘Brainpower’. The Tyler Hamilton material was later cut.

APPLE TV: How to get kids to fix bicycles 02/19/2008
Weldtech mechanic Jeff Beach teaches basic bike maintenance to eager kids at the Newcastle Phoenix cycling club.

APPLE TV: Bicycle Anatomy for Beginners 04/01/2008
Loving close-ups of bike parts, named for newbies. This also features ‘bespoke’ music made from bicycle parts.

Phil Liggett and friends go cycling 08/17/2007
A video of last year’s Phil and Friends ride in the Peak District. Two ‘voices of cycling’ are featured, the other being Eurosport’s David Harmon.

2 CHAIN GANG Wax or shave? 04/24/2008
An episode from a 1990s TV series in which I get my leg hairs pulled out and then go for a ride in the country with a road club.

6 CHAIN GANG Jason McRoy MTB superstar (RIP) 04/24/2008
This is also from the Tyne Tees series Chain Gang. It features the iconic rider on his home turf as well as competing against Myles Rockwell in the 1994 Reebok Eliminator on the Kamikaze course at Mammoth Mountain, California.

BIKE THIEVES: know thine enemy 08/07/2007
This is a video short, first aired on Channel 4, interviewing a bike thief and putting his words on an animation of stealing techniques.

Kinda saucy: woman in shorts on bike from Oz comedy 07/30/2007
I’m surprised this one isn’t higher up the list. It’s from 1980s hit comedy series the Paul Hogan Show. It’s sub-Benny Hill stuff.

Out for a cushy spin: Cyclists Special, 1955 07/12/2007
A full-length version of the famous cinema short about a train-borne CTC-led cycle tour of the Midlands.

John Burke: the Al Gore of the bike trade? 05/09/2007
This is a bicycle advocacy talk given to industry leaders at the 2007 Taiwan trade show. Burke argued that bike companies should increase their financial support of bicycle advocates and political lobbying groups. He called the bicycle “the perfect product at the perfect time.” And bike companies would sell more of them if there were more places for folks to ride them.

“The number one way to grow the business and to have an impact on society, health, environment and congestion is to create a bicycle-friendly world,” said Burke.

He revealed that for every $100 of sales, bike companies typically spend $3.90 on marketing, $1.60 on R&D but just 10 cents on advocacy.

“That doesn’t make sense. As an industry we need to look at how we spend money. Why do we spend the amount of money on marketing and product and little on advocacy?”

Putting ‘APPLE TV’ at the front of an episode helps it to rise up the rankings. Personally, I’m using my Apple TV much more than my TiVo-style Sky HD box. This will only accelerate now that the UK version of Apple TV has two quid video rentals. Not that I’m lazy or anything but the ability to cut out the trip to the video rental store is a real boon.

What if Apple designed a bicycle?

ixi ipod

The new iPhone is launched next week. It will be dripping with goodies such as GPS, 3G and a higher-res camera. All well and good but it’s just an iPod/pda/media-player/phone/camera/sex-toy combo, it won’t set the world on fire (can you tell I want one?). But what if the design prowess of Apple was turned on the bicycle?


In this BikeBiz article on James Thomas of the BicycleDesign blog, I threw in the Ive-on-a-bike question.

He answered:

“I am sure an iBike would look nice, but then I would be stuck buying expensive proprietary Apple chain lube and tyre air!

I would love to see Jonathan Ive’s take on the bicycle. I think Biomega is one company that has successfully used designers from outside the bike industry to create products that can potentially appeal to non-cyclists. Most of the people who work in the bicycle industry, designers included, are in the industry because they really love bikes. Familiarity with the product is a good thing, but if you want to reach new markets, a different way of thinking may be required and sometimes a designer from a totally different industry can provide a fresh perspective.”

Apple isn’t about to design a bicycle any time soon. Anyway, according to Delta’s Errol Drew, the iXi bike is the “iPod of the bike world.”

But there are other Apple linkages to our favourite form of transport. For instance, the [Apple] Macintosh was originally going to be called the Bicycle, and if Steve Jobs hadn’t crashed his Schwinn Stingray he may never have joined the brainiacs club that gave him wings…

One of these links is true, the other is a fanboy’s dream.

Top marks if you knew that it’s the former that’s OSX and the latter that’s Vista.


Apple history site is run by Andy Hertzfeld, one of the Apple techies that helped develop the Macintosh.

Here’s him describing how ‘Macintosh’ was preferred to ‘Bicycle’.

“Jef Raskin [father of the Macintosh] chose the name ‘Macintosh’, after his favorite kind of apple, so when Jef was forced to go on an extended leave of absence in February 1981, Steve Jobs and Rod Holt decided to change the name of the project, partially to distance it from Jef.

“Apple had recently taken out a two page ad in Scientific American, featuring quotes from Steve Jobs about the wonders of personal computers. The ad explained how humans were not as fast runners as many other species, but a human on a bicycle beat them all.

“Personal computers were ‘bicycles for the mind.'”

“A month or so after Jef’s departure, Rod Holt announced to the small design team that the new code name for the project was ‘Bicycle’, and that we should change all references to ‘Macintosh’ to ‘Bicycle’.

“Rod’s edict was never obeyed. Somehow, Macintosh just seemed right. It was already ingrained with the team, and the “Bicycle” name seemed forced and inappropriate, so no one but Rod ever called it “Bicycle”. For a few weeks, Rod would reprimand anyone who called it “Macintosh” in his presence, but the new name never acquired any momentum.”

The other – and spurious – Apple link to cycling was created by Dan Lyons, aka Fake Steve Jobs. Here’s the interview I conducted with him a fortnight ago. He’s funny in the flesh, too. There’s an audio podcast of our conversation on iTunes.

During his talk to techies at the Thinking Digital conference he read out part of his EJ Thribb-style In Memoriam obit-poem to Evel Knievel in which it was revealed Steve Jobs had a previously unknown junior penchant for stunt cycling:

Because you inspired people.
Including me. One time,
when I was thirteen, I built
a ramp on my street
& put on a cape
& a football helmet
& tried to jump a Schwinn Stingray
over three kindergarten kids.
Each kid lay on the pavement
holding a pair of enormous torches —
rolled-up newspapers doused in gasoline.
Flames leapt eight feet into the air.
Soon after this
as a condition of my parole
I joined my school’s electronics club.
The rest, as they say,
is history.

Signs of things to come

CycleSignageJesmondDene  045 - Version 2

We rolled back from our recent cycling holiday to a surprise. When we were away, the local council had installed cycle signage right outside our cottage. It’s excellent for our home to be highlighted as officially bicycle-friendly!

We live in a wooded valley called Jesmond Dene. It’s a two-mile linear park following the Ouseburn river to the Tyne. As well as being a key recreational park for residents of Newcastle, it’s a wildlife corridor.

However, it’s wildlife of the motorised sort which can often be a headache down here. Ouseburn Road looks and feels like a winding country lane, despite being just 1.5 miles from the centre of Newcastle. Locals therefore treat it like a country lane: it’s a high-speed rat-run for idiot motorists.

Traffic, thankfully, is light but, of course, that makes cars go faster. They love ripping around the corners as though they were taking part in the RAC Rally of GB.

At night the road is very much a race track, with motorists zipping along at 40+mph, taking blind corners as though no other road users could possibly wish to be travelling at the same time as them.

During the day – especially when it’s sunny, like today – it’s not uncommon to see pedestrians, cyclists, horse-riders and others fanning across the width of the road. Locals swarm to the area: Jesmond Dene was recently voted the top picnic spot in the North East of England, beating the Alnwick Garden and Gateshead’s Angel of the North.

One day there will be a major impact on this road, with a strolling family wiped out because of a rat-running twat. The road’s speed limit is unsigned so presumed to be 30mph. It could do with being downgraded to 20mph. But Newcastle City Council has yet to do this because the road is not – yet – an accident blackspot.

A few years ago, a small amount of traffic calming was put in place. Some build-outs were placed at pinch-points, with right of way being given in one direction only. Naturally, this only rarely slows motorists down. In fact, most tend to speed up to get past the half-chicanes. What’s needed are full chicanes and meaty speed bumps. Such measures may be part of the council’s lottery-funded £6m redevelopment of the Ouseburn Parks. But I shan’t be holding my breath.

As an interim measure perhaps the cycle route signage will help to slow down motorists? Again, I’m not holding my breath.

But anything that officially says ‘cycling is welcome here’ has got to be a good thing, free advertising in effect.

A lot more could be on its way, not just in Newcastle but across the UK. In the summer, the Department for Transport will publish the long-awaited Cycling Infrastructure Design guidance.

This will take the place of Cycle Friendly Infrastructure (CFI) guidelines from 1996.


The CFI is out of date but it was the first place to recommend a ‘Hierarchy of Provision’ for cycling, tackling the major deterrents to cycling at source.

The ‘Hierarchy of Provision’ recommended that reductions in motor traffic volumes and speeds should be considered first as they were potentially the most effective. At the other end of the scale it suggested that new cycle routes segregated from motor traffic should only be implemented if the other alternatives had proved impossible or unlikely to achieve the desired benefits for cyclists.

Consider first:
Traffic reduction
Speed reduction
Junction treatment, hazard site treatment, traffic management
Redistribution of the carriageway (bus lanes, widened nearside lanes, cycle lanes etc)
Segregated cycle tracks constructed by reallocation of carriageway space, cycle tracks away from roads

Consider last:
Conversion of footways/footpaths to unsegregated shared-use cycle tracks alongside the carriageway

The hoary old argument about whether cyclists should be on the road or on separate paths will never be settled. Too many people – newbies and old-hands – would never, ever consider cycling on roads, even though roads usually offer the most direct route to a destination.

The CTC says:

While separate paths may look good on paper, in the real world cycle facilities are not all they’re cracked up to be. Moving cyclists off the road makes them harder for drivers to notice, and puts them in greater danger at junctions. Many cycle facilities are badly designed, and separating cyclists from drivers reinforces the idea that roads are primarily for cars.

Most collisions occur at junctions, as drivers turning left or right collide with cyclists continuing straight ahead. Cycletracks force cyclists back into the traffic at junctions, forcing them to merge with traffic at the very place they are most at risk of being hit.

A comprehensive study of Copenhagen’s segregated routes found that while there was a 10% decrease in the number of collisions between the junctions, the number of incidents at junctions rose by 18%, with an increase of 9-10% in collisions overall.

The average cyclist travels at 12 mph, with commuter cyclists travelling far faster. However most facilities are not designed for such speeds; cycletracks can be narrow and shared with pedestrians, while cycle lanes are often blocked with parked cars or broken glass and debris.

Cycletracks take cyclists off the road between junctions, where they are less at risk of being hit, then force them to merge into the traffic at junctions, where they are most at risk.

Taking cyclists off the road reinforces drivers’ feelings of road-ownership

Even a well thought out network of high-quality routes is not going to provide door-to-door coverage, meaning that at some point you will be cycling on the road. It’s therefore very important to look at how investing in cycle facilities affects the relationship between cyclists and other road users.

Studies by the Transport Research Laboratory show that drivers dislike having road space taken from them, and get frustrated when cyclists choose not to use cycle paths, even if the path is badly designed or blocked by or parked cars.

Their reports also found that most drivers thought cyclists who weren’t using a cycletrack were being “irresponsible”. Some even claimed they drove aggressively “to encourage them to get over there”.

The more cyclists there are on the roads, the safer cycling becomes, as drivers get used to being around cyclists. Taking cyclists away from traffic means drivers spend less time around cyclists and increases the likelihood of a crash – whether there is an off-road cycletrack or not.

Wearable feedbags: the latest way for Americans to scoff on the move

The Onion News Network has drop-dead funny audio podcasts and incredibly piercing video news spoofs, too. It’s well worth subscribing to in iTunes so you don’t miss a single episode.

I like to store them up on Apple TV and watch a bunch of them in one swoop.

This one had me on the floor:

New Wearable Feedbags Let Americans Eat More, Move Less

Ask Annie, she knows

Anne Fisher, a senior writer at Fortune magazine, has a column called ‘Ask Annie’. The current topic – syndicated on and currently one of the most read stories of the day – is all about the rising price of petrol and how this impacts on car commuters.

The answers she puts forward include working from home “in bunny slippers” through to catching the bus once in a while.

And, of course, cycling to work. There has been an avalanche of such ‘think bike’ stories in the mainstream US press of late. Cycling seems to have come in out of the cold. It’s still seen as a fringe, sandal-wearing activity by many but it sure is cost-efficient, and in credit crunch times, that’s a headline grabber.

Newbie bike commuters quickly learn to love cycling to work for reasons of fat-busting and fun but penny-pinching is a good introduction. And Annie Fisher ends her piece with a corker of an economic argument:

“Of course, it isn’t practical for everyone to bike to work, but before you decide you can’t, consider these figures, from the American Automobile Association: With gas prices where they are now, the annual cost of owning a car and driving it roughly 15,000 miles is about $14,000. It costs about $120 a year to maintain a bike – or, if your employer is footing the bill, it costs nothing.”

Get on your cellphone

This site is now available in a mobile-friendly, text-only format here.

With billions of WAP-enabled phones around the world it makes sense to be mobile-friendly.

I’ve always had a softspot for WAP. Of course, most modern phones have web-browsing capabilities but for when it’s just text updates you’re after, the WAP versions of RSS-enabled websites are quicker and slicker.

BikeBiz has a great new mobile site but the old one was very nearly a top award winner in 2000.

WAP was in its infancy and there were just a handful of news websites offering a WAP service. was among them. I got the coding done by a very clever school kid and we were chuffed when the site came runner-up in the business technology section of the European Online Journalism Awards in 2000. was also second in the business news category, beaten only by Joint runner-up that day was

US motorist crashes into Mexican bike ride

A US citizen crashed into a US-organised Mexican sportive on Sunday. The riders were 15 minutes into the 34km ride between Playa Bagdad and Matamoros, across from Brownsville, Texas.

Driver Juan Campos, 28, was charged with killing Alejandro Alvarez, 37. Campos was said by police to have been drunk and asleep at the wheel when he ploughed into the cyclists. Pix of the crash and Campos are now on Flickr.

In stills at the start of the video above, cyclists and bicycles are seen flying through the air. A helmet from one of the cyclists is also seen in mid-air.

UPDATE: TV station has filed this report on the crash and its aftermath:

Bizarrely, at the end of the report – which interviewed one of the injured riders – the TV reporter said the injured cyclist would “hit the road again soon.” She also said: “Miraculously, one of the riders was killed but several others remain in the hospital.”See full transcript below.

The horrific image of the crash has been seen around the world. There’s been much discussion whether it’s right to publicise the image. This commentary is the best on this emotive subject.

A horrific bike tour accident in Matamoros over the weekend leaves one Brownsville man dead and several injured. An amateur photographer captures an amazing shot of the accident as it happens.

The third annual bike tour – Matamoros-Playa Bagdad – started at 8 o’ clock Sunday morning. Hundreds of people, from little ones to adults, joined the 21-mile race. They thought it was a family outing, but little did they know, 30 minutes later, a man under the influence of alcohol ended the life of Brownsville resident, 30-year-old Alejandro Alvarez.

The picture you see on the screen was taken right as the accident happened. The car swerved around the police escort and ran over a dozen bikers. the bicyclists and bikes were thrown in the air from the sudden impact. Miraculously, one of the riders was killed but several others remain in the hospital.

37-year-old Julio Garcia was in front of the pack. He says all he remembers is peddling and looking at the car police say was driven by Brownsville resident, Jesse Campos, go toward the pack.

“I hit one of the guys and flew on top of those. I couldn’t see. Everything happened in seconds. Only thing that I can remember is I was sitting next to the road and I looked around I see guys thrown over there.”

The guys that were hit by Campos were his teammates from the Velocyraptors Cycling Team. The team has joined various races here in the Valley and it was the first time the team joined in the race in Matamoros.

“It was a good challenge to go across the border, just have fun that’s all, and have fun.”

Garcia says seven members of the cycling team including himself were hurt. Three are still at Valley Baptist Medical Center. He’s recovering at home with bumps and bruises. Garcia says the only reason he’s alive is because of his protective gear.

Two bikers remain in the hospital in stable condition; the other is in serious but also stable condition. As for Garcia, he says he will hit the streets again after he makes a full recovery, but he’ll be more aware of his surroundings.