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Perpetual motion

July 15, 2009
thats actually a ghost in the background, not a blur. London is full of ghosts.

I like how the guy in the background isn't riding one of these bikes

A young designer has come up with an idea I think I can get behind for developing a sustainable transport system. Chiyu Chen has developed a new type of rental bike that stores energy generated from braking and pedaling (sort of like what a Prius does) in an ultracapacitor that rests just below the handlebars. When you return the bike to one of the rental docks, it plugs in and feeds the electrical energy you generated into a power grid that charges all of the city’s hybrid buses. Read on for the kicker after the jump.

On top of this, you get rewarded for renting the bike – the farther you go (or I guess, just the more you pedal), the more credit you get on your metro card. In a city like London (which must be the one Chen had in mind, seeing there’s an Oyster card in the pictures), this seems to me a pretty great idea. You rent a bike for the weekend, or to go somewhere close around town, and then when you need to travel farther, you can hop on a bus or the Underground (seeing as London is over 659 square miles large). The other plus side is that the bikes are ugly or weird / ‘futuristic’ looking. Most rental bike schemes feel the need to design silly hideous plastic monstrosities that look like what Hanna-Barbera thought the future would look like in the early 60s. Chen’s design is pretty simple, and looks like a classic bike, like something you could have actually bought at a bike store.

The only downside I can see is that this wouldn’t be as sustainable in small cities, as I can’t see a need for someone who wants to ride a bike across town being as interested in bus credits, seeing as they could’ve just biked. In general, though, this could be a great way to wean city dwellers off of unnecessary car trips, and to show more people how great biking can be, or to support the public transport system. It would probably work a hell of a lot better than London’s (arguably) failed Congestion Charge scheme / surveillance plan, which has just paid for many more diesel buses in the city, and lined the council’s pockets, rather than really cutting down on car use in London.

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