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

So the technology exists, but, just like everything else in New York, it all comes down to money - something that, right now, Citi Bike says it's fresh out of. "I'd guesstimate each [generator unit] would run around $350," Maschmeier told us. Of course $350 x 6,000 (the number of bikes in the bike share program) is well over 2 million bucks, so installing generators on every single dock is probably a longshot. But what if only one bike dock per station was equipped with a generator? With 330 stations (the current count), we'd be looking at about $115,500 to install one generator per station. Or, generators could be installed only at the stations that need a little extra juice (remember that some riders have been complaining that solar-powered Citi Bike stations oftentimes don't work on cloudy days). According to Maschmeier, the system's credit card machines don't use much power, so it would likely only take one person pedaling for about 30 minutes to store enough charge in the battery to keep the station up and running for the day. Half an hour spent pedaling on a stationary bike may sound grueling to some, but let's not forget that some people are already doing it just for the sake of their figures.

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~