The Bendy Bicycle first caught my attention back in July, when the bike’s inventor, Kevin Scott, collected a £500 runners-up prize at the Business Design Centre New Designer of the Year Award in London. At a time when the weather was still bringing countless joy to thousands of recreational cyclists, Mr Scott, then a final-year Product Design student at Leicester’s DeMontfort University, decided to build on his second-place success by bringing the Bendy Bicycle to market.
The question that has been playing on my mind ever since is: could the Bendy Bicycle defeat crime? Ok, for the record, I am not suggesting that the Bendy Bicycle is set to become the latest tool in Batman’s war chest (or cave), although, the thought of watching Christian Bale cycle his way around the streets of Gotham City on a black and orange bicycle that bends at its frame, is one that I am sure many fans would love to see come to fruition.
Ignoring its Hollywood blockbuster movie potential, I am of the opinion that the Bendy Bicycle could actually do a great job of reducing bicycle thefts – crime prevention was, after all, one of the key objectives behind Mr Scott’s creation.
Unfortunately, the Bendy Bicycle must swim against the tide (metaphorically, at least, unless Batman requested an amphibious set of wheels) if it is to succeed in reducing bicycle crime. According to figures published by the British Crime Survey and police forces in England and Wales, a slight increase in the number of bicycle thefts was recorded in the first six months of 2010, compared to the same period last year. It would seem that, despite a 16 per cent fall in vehicle crime and an 8 per cent fall in home burglaries, the humble bicycle has not escaped thieves’ attention. 23,178 bicycles were stolen in London during 2009, compared to just 17,609 in 2007.
Nationwide, almost half a million bicycles are misappropriated each year and the figures would suggest that, in Halifax, a bicycle is stolen every minute. Clearly, either something needs to be done about bicycle crime or Batman needs to relocate to Halifax.
The Bendy Bike could at very least make life awkward for thieves. Whereas conventional bicycles comprise an understandably solid frame, consisting of a crossbar and down-tube, the Bendy Bicycle features two segmented tubes containing a cable. Using a ratchet system located beneath the saddle, a Bendy Bicyclist can tighten the cable to make the frame rigid, which offers the obvious advantage of making the bike rideable. When the bike is not in use, the rider can loosen the cable, which serves to separate the segments of the tube, so that the bike’s frame can be bent up to 180°. Once bent, the Bendy Bicycle could be wrapped and then locked around a lamp-post.
Not only does the Bendy Bicycle promise improved security, it also helps to conserve space. Ultimately, the Bendy Bicycle could defeat bike crime – but only if thieves forget how to saw through a standard D-lock.