An engineering student at Cambridge University has reinvented the traditional river punt by installing pedal power.
The so-called ‘puntcycle’ was invented by 22 year-old Barnaby Walker who converted an unloved old punt into a sleek, two-wheeled speed machine capable of leaving all other river-users in his wake.
He decided to breathe new life into French Hen, a punt which was a year older than himself, and rescued it after being beached for three years.
Traditionally punts – long narrow boats with flat fronts and sterns – are powered by a pole which is pushed onto the river bed, but as Barnaby explained, powering by pedal means that you don’t need to put as much energy into it and its a lot more stable.
The engineering student said: “At the moment we are about the same speed as a traditional punt, but I reckon we can get up to nearly double that.
“In terms of performance we haven’t yet taken it up to full speed, we just need to put on splash guards, as it currently gets a bit of water in the boat.
“We wanted to show people engineering isn’t just about really complicated or boring things, and at the end of it there is a product people can engage with and see for themselves.”