If I had to think of one place on Earth that could most benefit from fewer cars and more bikes, Seoul would certainly spring to mind. Renowned for its traffic and air pollution, Seoul recently hosted the Seoul Cycle Design Competition 2010, which was part of the Seoul Design Fair that ran from the 17th September to the 7th October.

The Seoul Cycle Design Competition 2010 welcomed entries from around the world to solve a very local – yet neither unique nor isolated – problem: to design a bicycle for the typical city slicker that would encourage him (or her) to assimilate cycling into his daily routine. As with most objectives concerning bicycles, the ultimate aim of the competition was to explore convenient ways in which the health of both man and nature could be improved.

Conventional bicycles can be very useful for people who live and work in the city but, generally speaking, they are not the most convenient tools. As such, designers were tasked with creating rideable bikes that could be easily lugged around and stored. Predictably, many of the 3,000-plus designers who entered the competition moved towards the same goal – to devise a lightweight bicycle that could be folded away when not in use. Yes, that’s right, mankind’s future beholds the foldable bicycle!

Designed by Shin Hyung Sub Shin, the Carrier Bike is said to provide all the necessary requirements of tomorrow’s city slicker. The Carrier Bike comprises a unique foldable structure that bears an unfortunate resemblance to the type of shopping trolley dragged around by old dears several decades ago (you know, the cuboid-shaped, tartan-stitched, backwards-oriented Zimmer Frame bag). In fact, the Carrier Bike could be the love child of the shopping trolley bag and Short Circuit’s Number 5. In other words, most peculiar.

In its unfolded state, the Carrier Bike appears no more easy to ride than it is easy on the eye – future city bankers would need to have wiped out a few more economies before they deserve this little transportation treat.

The Full Circle bike by Sanghyun Jeong and June-Tae Park also boasts a trolley-style folded design, as if business people of the future are expected to resemble tourists lost at the airport. Featuring awfully straight handlebar and seat tubes, which extend to an uncomfortably great height, the Full Circle’s frame also resigns curves to the past. Without any chains or gears, the Full Circle is powered directly by pedals connected to the front disc-shaped wheel, meaning that cyclists of the future will need to work hard to look ridiculous.

One promising foldable bike design to feature in Seoul this year was Marcos Madia’s ‘Bikoff’, which could be packed away to form a conveniently sized and shaped briefcase. In its unfolded state, the Bikoff looks no more stupid than any other foldable bike design, with the exception perhaps that the pedals are situated too close to the ground. Oh and that the wheels are too small and the lightweight briefcase-shaped frame could probably blow away in a 5mph breeze. Fortunately, the Seoul Cycle Design Competition 2010 was won by Nils Sveje’s ‘Bike 2.0,’ which may be a little bland-looking but benefits enormously from not being foldable.