Image by: NASA Goddard Photo and Video
Cycling can be more than a hobby or a means by which to get to and from work every day. It’s health and environmental benefits are already well known, but using the humble bicycle as a means to make a positive and influential global change has yet to be fully tapped.
There have, however, already been a few innovative applications for your favourite two-wheeled companion in ways you might not even have contemplated. And this is potentially just the beginning of a cycle-inspired global revolution.
Here are four ways in which the omnipresent two-wheel steed is making an impressive, sometimes life-saving, change for the better.
Provide Clean Water
Did you know that roughly one in eight people worldwide don’t have access to safe water? Or that more than 3.5 million people die annually from some water-related illness? I’m sure you’ll agree those are shocking statistics.
One company, however, has created a bike that purifies dirty and polluted water in to drinking water. Riders cycle to a lake or river and insert an attached hose in to the water, place the bike’s rear wheel in to a stationary stand, and start pedalling.
This generates enough energy to activate a pressure pump that surges water though a multi filtration unit – about 1.3 gallons of clean water every minute – to produce enough drinking water for 1500 people in ten hours.
Get Your Caffeine Kick
If you’re fed up with paying exorbitant sums for your daily espresso or even feel a little miffed your money’s contributing to the coffers of a multi-national that’s not paying its taxes (not mentioning any names, BigBucks), then why not make your own coffee?
That’s just what Alex Roth of Davis, USA does – using nothing more than fast and furious pedal power. Essentially his bike is attached to big drum full of coffee beans which spins them around like a tumble drier, and it produces one roast in about 20 minutes after 10 minutes of cooling.
Power a City
Christmas leaves everybody bloated and irritable from spending another afternoon watching the Great Escape whilst gorging an apparently unending repository of leftover cold turkey, so thoughts are usually on New Year’s Resolutions – one of which is usually signing up to the local gym to work on those abs and shed a few pounds.
It makes sense then that if you’re burning off the Christmas pudding then you’re putting it to good use, as Seattle-based company PlugOut has done. It’s manufactured an exercise bike that reroutes all your expended energy back in to its local grid to power TVs and lights. Genuine proof that there’s no such thing as wasted energy.
A team of doctors from Marquette University created their own human-powered nebulizer – a bicycle frame with pedals – which helps provide support and relief from patients suffering from respiratory ailments such as asthma or obstructive pulmonary disease. Amazingly, it converts liquid medicine in to a mist that flows in to the patient’s lungs via a mouthpiece.
And while commercial nebulizers use an electric compressor to maintain a steady flow of air, this device can achieve the same result by pedalling the equivalent of eight miles an hour.
These are just three examples of how bikes can be used for the wider, global good – from providing essential assistant for those in third world countries to providing your Monday morning coffee kick. No longer just associated with health, environmentalism and leisure, bikes are now a true, two-wheeled force to be reckoned with.
Can you think of any more positive and potentially world-changing uses for bikes?
- License: Creative Commons image source
Gavin Harvey is a personal trainer and keen cyclist who knows the true possibilities of the bike as a world-changing force to be reckoned with, but which are yet to be fully realised. Here he writes for All Terrain Cycles.