Notes from Catherine Rowett, former Green Party MEP for East of England and deputy coordinator of the Eastern Region Green Party*(UK). Biographical reflections on life as an MEP. Longer reflections and discussions on issues relating to policy, the good life, justice, equality, anti-austerity economics and the future of the planet. This is also a forum for exchanging ideas on how to tread lightly on the planet and avoid supporting exploitation and corrupt practices. Here we go...

Friday, 13 November 2009

Simple devices and inventions with negative commercial impact I: No-bracket bike lights.

As Christmas approaches, the shops are full of gadgets that you imagine, just for a moment, might be useful until you think about why they can't possibly do anything you couldn't do better yourself. And meanwhile the Universities are being pressed to discover things that have some commercial potential, so that they can prove that having great brains at work is worth the money.
What about the marvellously simple invention that costs nothing at all, and saves you having to buy some gadget or equipment or tool that costs a lot? Something for free that does the job just as well or better? Is that worth inventing? I find myself doing so all the time.

Here's one from this week. "No-bracket bike lights".
The problem: you have more than one bicycle. One of your bikes has battery lights that clip onto brackets fixed to the cycle. Now you need to ride the other bike which has no brackets for the lights (because the lights came with just one set of brackets), and no lighting set of its own.
The solution: (1) clip the back light to your reflective belt, back pocket of your rucksack or back pocket; (2) find one of the red rubber bands that the postman drops. Fold it double and wrap it round the handlebars or steering column of the bike in such a way that there are two loops, one on either side of the bar. Rest the front light on the handlebar or against the column, and pop the two loops over the front and back end of the sausage-shaped bike light. Adjust the tension of the loops by moving parts of the band from front to back or the reverse, until your lamp is pointing roughly in the right direction. Hey presto: hands-free lighting.

1 comment:

Philip said...

Red rubber bands dropped by the postman are excellent for all sorts of 'bodge-it' fixing jobs around the house and so on. They are quite strong, provided they haven't lain on the pavement for too long in the full sun (not much chance this last summer...) and perished.

Just remember to make sure the back light really is pointing fairly directly backwards, if it's fixed to your belt or something. Bicycles are very difficult to see on a wet night when there are lots of other lights from cars, shops, street lights, etc.

Of course, the other solution to needing two brackets is to wait until someone steals your light, leaving the bracket behind. Then make sure the replacement is the same design...