I have been attempting to function without using my car for almost two weeks now. Some things have been really easy; I don’t like to drive to work anyway given the convenience and lower cost of transit and the even lower cost of riding my bike. Already though there have been some challenges, like the large dump of snow we had on May 4th, and the fact that I crashed my bike a couple weeks ago and I’m still suffering from some pretty severe knee pain.
So far, I’m still car-free but I have carpooled twice. And my husband took the car to a composting workshop held at the John Janzen Nature Centre. He was all set to bike until we realized that getting a compost bin home on the bike was not something that either of us is currently equipped for.
In the meantime, I have read about two very cool places that use bikes to generate electricity. The Crowne Plaza hotel in Copenhagen has attached power generators to the stationary bikes in their fitness room. As a guest in the hotel you can receive a meal voucher if you generate 10 watts of electricity on the bike. This takes different lengths of time depending on your fitness level but on average it will take about 15 minutes.
The second place is a health club, Go Green Fitness, in Orange, Connecticut. They attached generators to their 25 spin bikes and sell the electricity generated back to the grid. At the end of each spin session they announce how much electricity was generated. So far they have reached a maximum of 1122 watts.
Inspired, I looked up whether this was possible for my personal bike in my home, and it is, but not with the money, time, or expertise that I have. But imagine the applications for the future if we could adapt this in our homes? You could run your toaster by pedaling your bike. Or even better, your kids would have to generate the electricity for their video games by pedaling a bike while they play. We could get fit and get green at the same time.
Until this technology becomes available in my home I’ll stick to saving money and helping the environment by traveling the city on my bike thus allowing me to avoid gas costs and gym memberships.