In my life, power is all close by. I don’t mean the politicians and judges who work down the street, but the serious amounts of electrons backed up, rearing to go, in all of the electronic technology of modern life ready to do our bidding. If it’s dark, I have lights. If my clothes are dirty, I have a power washing machine. If I have discreet foods requiring unification, I have an obnoxiously loud blender.
Given the trouble and grand expense we go to for easy energy, I wondered about other ways of generating the energy needed to enjoy the convenience of a washing machine or blender, without the dollar and environmental price tag. Given the benefits of exercise and sustainable living, I am interested in unconventional ways to harness power. They range from the minor, such as plugging your exercise machine into a socket at home to take some money off of your monthly bill, to the more serious, like the bike-powered clothes washer I found with a quick web search.
Watch this short clip for a test spin:
Created by an NGO based in Guatemala, more of these human-powered appliances can be found on the organization’s website. They range from a mobile water pump, a mill, a nut-sheller, and a blender, to a coffee depulper and a microconcrete vibrator that allows for the production of quality roofing tiles. Prototypes in the works are a wood saw, tool sharpener and a generator. While these machines aren’t necessary for city life, perhaps there are ways to incorporate cycle power in to the urban scene. Combination laundromat and spinning class studios, maybe? Why not connect gyms across the land to feed kilowatt hours back into the grid?
Just when you thought bikes couldn’t get any more useful, a company called Shweeb is going to blow your mind. While I suspect the exact details have yet to be worked out, the plan of zippy, cooperative, people-powered transit sounds like a good one. Would you be excited about your daily commute in the Shweeby future of flying cyclepods? Even if you think the name is dweeby, check out the Shweeb transit concept here, or if that looks like too many words, try the shorter FAQ.
While I appreciate the vision and optimism of the Shweeb plan, I feel like most people would rather grind it out on the jerky, packed bus or subway than enjoy a little bubble in the sky where they needed to pedal. Is 25 kilometers an hour in an aerodynamic, ergonomic machine too much to ask from the modern lazybones?