Gallery: How Citi Bikes Could Be Used to Generate Pedal-Powered Energy ...

By now, it's no secret that docked Citi Bikes can be used as free personal exercise machines, but could this new trend be used for a purpose other than giving the city's homeless population "sick bodies"? What if, instead of putting the kibosh on the practice by locking the pedals of the bikes (as some have speculated could happen), the city was able to harness the kinetic energy generated by the movement of these opportunistic New Yorkers' legs and turn it into electricity? And what if the resulting pedal power could charge up cell phones, emergency equipment or even solve some of the issues Citi Bike's been having with their off-the-grid stations going dead?

An event at Universal Studios powered by people pedaling bikes equipped with ASE generators.

Pedal-powered generators are nothing new. In fact, we’ve featured quite a few examples here on Inhabitat from a pedal-powered music festival in Union Square (which was “Powered by Natural Ass”) to the pedal-powered premiere of NBC’s Revolution, a show about a post-apocalyptic future world with no electricity. But those were one-off events – not a permanent system that needs to perform daily like the Citi Bike program. Would it be feasible to install the same kind of apparatus on Citi Bikes or Citi Bike docks?

Brooks Maschmeier, CEO of ASE Power Arizona (the company that supplied the generators for the NBC event) says that the answer is yes. “It’s extremely feasible,” Maschmeier told us over the phone today. “Looking at the docking stations, there’s plenty of room to place generators behind the bikes if we elevated them slightly,” he said. “The apparatus exists. We make it.” ASE is currently working with the University of Toronto’s Human Power Vehicle Design Team and architecture firm RAW Design on an event taking place tomorrow in Toronto that will feature triathletes pedaling bikes to discharge electricity back into the grid.


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  1. brooks June 26, 2013 at 11:59 am

    The power from people could help run the electronic Citi Bike racks and act as a remote power station for electronics during power outages.

  2. 1crazyfox June 26, 2013 at 9:52 am

    Homeless are ofttimes unhealthy due to high stress, lack of medical care and proper nutrition. It takes a tool on a body and mind quickly-and I am speaking of those that are not addicted to alcohol and drugs-they fare much worse. But having said that, at first glance the idea of making bikes available for charging phones, etc, sounds like a plan~