2013 was a big year for NYC's new Citi Bike system, and now the bright blue bikes are even helping to ring in the new year at Times Square. Since Saturday, six stationary Citi Bikes on the corner of 42nd Street and 7th Avenue have been a star attraction for riders wanting to burn some holiday pounds while turning their kinetic energy into electricity for the New Year’s ball’s 32,000+ LEDs. Citi Bike officially launched its ride and charge campaign on Saturday and Inhabitat was on the scene snapping shots of all the electrifying pedal power action.
Andrew Brent, director of Citi public affairs, told us the charged Citi Bike event came together at the very last minute during the first week of December. Citi Bank teamed up with the Times Square Alliance and Countdown Entertainment, which co-produces the New Year’s celebration to make it all happen with Pierce Promotions as the build team.
Tim Tompkins, President of Times Square Alliance, chimed in saying, “Times Square has been at the forefront at a lot these green initiatives to change the way people get around. We’ve got a lot of Citi Bike stations; we also have been part of the closing of Broadway and making it for pedestrians instead of vehicles.
“It makes sense that – as part of the Times Square New Year celebration – we’re also celebrating the greening of New York,” Tompkins continued. “In the same way that Citi Bike has really energized the city and made it greener, it’s energizing the New Year’s ball and making the celebration greener.”
The stationary Citi Bike power stations are just like their rentable counterparts with the exception that they were refurbished after being damaged by Hurricane Sandy. Each one is propped up on a set of pegs and has a 75-watt-hour dynamometer generator attached to the back wheel. There’s also a miniature computer board rigged up to the rides keeping track of how many watts have been generated so far.
“We’re seeing most people get on between two to five minutes,” Ned Flint of Pierce Promotions said. “We had one guy stay on for the whole hour and he hit that 75 watt mark. But, most people generate one to four watts.”
Flint estimates with the efforts they’re seeing already, the Citi Bike riders will generate roughly 10,000 watts from 20 fully charged 12-volt batteries. The more than 32,000 LEDs that speckle the Times Square New Year ball take about 15,000 watts to fully power up and Flint hopes they can reach that goal.
If given more time to hack something together, Flint does not imagine they would do much differently. Instead, he says the key was to keep things as simple as getting on a bike and having the people know they are doing something good. That said, we’ve still got our fingers crossed that Citi Bike charging stations will be used in future events like the pedal power Union Square music festival and return with even more bikes for next year’s NYE bash.
“I think the thing that’s happening now is people realize they can make a difference and things like this give them a easy way to do that,” Flint explained. It’s simple you just have to ride a bike and you’re helping. I think more of that will happen in the city [and] around the world, for sure.”
The Citi Bikes are free to ride in place until 8 p.m. today, so head on down and join the fun!
Images © Kevin Lee for Inhabitat