Bicycles Provide Pedal Power

Reader Contribution by Peyton Baldwin

Did you know that you can hook up a generator to your bicycle and create electricity every time you pedal?

Recently, students from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) developed a bike that can power a laptop. When it’s pedaled the stationary bike provides energy to a generator, which in turn charges a battery. In this case the students designed the bike to hold a laptop. The seat and ‘arm’ that holds the laptop can be adjusted for any person. The students are now trying to get the bike installed in the fitness center on campus.

This is not the only pedal-powered device around. The Pedal & Power phone charger can attach to a normal bike. As you go out for your afternoon ride you can charge your cell phone, digital camera, GPS or anything else that can be charged by a cigarette lighter. 

Windstream has created two types of human-powered generators. Both types use bikes but one is a stand that hooks up to a normal bike and one attaches to a bike (either stationary, or made to be stationary) to charge a battery. Windstream says pedal power setups were first introduced in 1978 and they are sold mostly to schools or museums that want to show how energy is made from human exertion.

In places without reliable electricity pedal power is used daily. Maya Pedal is an organization in Guatemala that uses this power for sustainable development. The members of this group have created everything from a mill degrainer to a nut sheller to a washing machine.

The ‘Go Green’ contest from Treehugger, Popular Science and Instructables also produced a human-powered generator. The winner constructed a generator that will power your television, cell phone and laptop.

Humboldt State University in California provides a how-to guide for creating pedal powered devices. It includes explanations of the two different types of devices, electrical and mechanical, and tells you how to make your own.

Have you ever tried pedal power? Share your story in the comments section below.