What do scooters, bike helmets, and building retrofits have in common? None of them are particularly cool, but they’re all here in this week’s green tech finds.
If you can power your phone with sunlight, and carry water purification equipment on your back, is there any need for large-scale, dirty utilities in the developing world? Those ideas and more in this week’s green tech finds.
What’s your neighborhood’s Bike Score?: The five-year-old Walk Score online service, which rates walkability of neighborhoods, cities, and addresses, now offers a similar metric for bicyclists. The new Bike Score is available in ten cities (and, apparently, Minneapolis is more bike-friendly than Portland – who’da thunk it?). (via The Atlantic Cities)
Most of us don’t give a lot of thought to the bicycle as an object of beauty: it’s purely functional, designed to get us from here to there. Any elements of design likely came from the marketing department. Describing it as “poetry in motion” seems, at best, clichè.
Texas playwright Tammy Melody Gomez dared to go there, though, expressing her love for her bicycle (her sole means of transportation) not merely in a few words, but in a full-length work of art. Her play
Planning to do some biking and walking in London, and want to get rewarded? Or spending time in Cambodia, and want to report illegal wildlife sales? We’ve got apps for that.
Thinking about gardening this weekend for Earth Day? Or disposing of that old computer responsibly? We’ve got information you’ll want as you celebrate the planet this week.
Need to relocate your garden into a sunny spot?: Or have an older relative who loves to garden, but has trouble bending over to dig in the dirt? The Garden on Wheels (above) works in both of these situations – it’s also a great solution for the urbanite with limited gardening space. (via Treehugger)
Can good design save the world? Well, maybe the Great Lakes, anyway. That, plus community-based solar, clothing recycling, and more: your green tech finds for the week.
The DIY bike seat: Ever wanted a second seat on your bicycle, without investing in a tandem? Or just carrying space without a trailer? Israeli designer Yael Livneh has you covered with his concept made from a used plastic milk crate. He’s entered the concept in Designboom’s Seoul Cycle Design competition. (via Unconsumption and @dothegreenthing)
Occupy the sun: We generally think of solar power as something that individual home and building owners do, but Francesca Rheannon at CSRWire takes a look at community-based efforts to adopt solar technology.
This year’s Park(ing) Day (an annual event I covered a few years ago) has come and gone and was another great success. In fact, it looks like they’re still counting the number of temporary “parks” people created in parking spaces around the world. Of course, all of those green spaces are gone now, but wouldn’t it be nice if parking spaces were being converted into spots for permanent enjoyment of the outdoors?
Lots of news on the car front this week, plus electronic paper, and a (partially) green-powered STAR TREK theme park in Jordan (yeah, Jordan).
Lotus’ wine and cheese-powered car: Okay, not exactly, but the British automaker’s Exige 270E Tri-fuel concept can do 0-60 in under four seconds on ethanol made from “undrinkable wine (whew!), whey (a byproduct of making cheese), and surplus chocolate.” Check it out in action above. (via The Discovery Channel)
Ford getting into the solar business? Kind of. They’re partnering with SunPower to offer future buyers of the company’s planned electric vehicles a rooftop solar system that could power the car completely on renewable energy.
While bicycling hasn’t hit the kind of critical mass we see in other countries, it’s certainly taking off in the United States. As with any new trend, “cool factors” come into play. Whether it’s the hardcore athletic cyclist decked out in brightly-colored Lycra or the hipster on his/her single-speed cruiser, biking has become a means of sharing one’s sense of identity, as well as a healthy, low-carbon means of transportation.
As a musician who tours by bike and train with the Pleasant Revolution, and also powers performances by pedaling, Heather Normandale already has a lot of green cred. But her environmentalism doesn’t stop with her methods of traveling or amplification; She also finds the inspiration for her music in the natural world. Her current project looks to the source of all life on the planet: water.
Got a bike? It’s probably nothing like the pedal-powered vehicles brought to Bozeman, Montana a week and half ago for HPVC West, a design competition sponsored by ASME (the American Society of Mechanical Engineers). Student teams from nineteen university engineering departments showed up at Montana State University to display their human-powered prototypes… and, of course, to race them.
Here in the US, bicycles generally fall into the category of “alternative transportation”… meaning an alternative to a car. Bikes are also alternatives in Rivas, Nicaragua… but, in their case, it’s an alternative to walking. Decades of war and political strife in the Central American country have left basic infrastructure and economic opportunities in ruin; in Rivas, providing citizens with bikes — about 20,000 over twenty years — has allowed them to create opportunities for themselves uncommon in many parts of the developing world.
The documentary THE BICYCLE CITY focuses on the role these bicycles have played in reinvigorating this coastal town. Currently in post-production, director Greg Sucharew’s film tells the story of how non-profit Pedals for Progress brought all those bikes (generally used ones from the US) to Rivas… and how they’re changed the socio-economic outlook for its residents.
While efforts to develop high-speed rail routes in the United States have hit all sorts of political snags, another effort at low-carbon travel is quietly making inroads in a majority of the states. The Adventure Cycling Association reports that its proposed U.S. Bicycling Route System reached a milestone earlier this month: “thirty states are now actively working to implement official U.S. Bike Routes for transportation, recreation, and tourism” — double the number from last year!
An electric unicycle, iPad recycling, and creating your own bike lane on the go… this week’s green tech finds.
- California farmers leading the way on renewables: According to the USDA’s new On-Farm Renewable Energy Production Survey, “California farms and ranches now make up more than 20 percent of all operations in the nation with solar, wind and methane digester use.” (via Calfinder’s Residential Solar blog)
- Harvesting energy from slow tides: That’s the concept behind Minesto UK’s Deep Green technology, a “kite-like device [which] is tethered to the seabed and is steered by a rudder, which allows it to adjust the speed at which water enters the turbine.” The UK’s Carbon Fund has awarded Minesto £350,000 to test the device.
When the subject of infrastructure improvements as job creators come up, the examples are almost always the same: roads and bridges. No doubt we need improvements there… but a new study from the Political Economy Research Institute at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst suggests that bike lanes may provide a bigger bang for the buck in terms of job creation.
Plastic bottles you can eat, a tiny solar home, and hybrid street sweepers… this week’s green tech finds. Audi’s green history: You likely associate the phrase “green cars” with Toyota and Honda; Denis Duquet at The Car Guide thinks Audi should be on that list, also… More bang from your bike: Fandi Meng’s I-Green battery…
It might be tempting to label the “journey across America in search of ______” motif a cliché… except it still resonates powerfully. From 19th-century travelogues to Kerouac’s On the Road to Albert Brooks’ Lost in America, the idea of traveling the US as a quest for meaning captures out imaginations, and gives us space for a bit of introspection.
Ryan Mlynarczyk and Mandy Creighton went beyond the dreaming about such adventures most of us do, and decided to set out on their own quest across the country… this time in search of sustainable community. In 2008, they ditched almost everything, and set off across the US on bikes to explore ecovillages, communes, collectives… every form of simpler, more sustainable communities they could find. They’ve visited over 100 communities across the country, and are now pulling footage of their journey into a feature-length film titled WITHIN REACH.
We greenies tend to view the bicycle in purely practical terms: as a low-carbon, healthy form of transportation. Nothing wrong with that… but also no reason we can’t promote biking as sexy. That’s the idea behind Babelgum’s Freewheelers, “a series of documentary portraits about hot-looking bikes and the people who ride them…”
I looked up “cheat” in the dictionary and found this photo. As the crowd at Reddit pointed out, on top of all that ridiculous pro-gear, he’s OVER THE START LINE. I think it’s safe to say that we’ve officially crossed the “friendly competition where everyone gets a trophy for finishing” line. His parents must be…
Traveling cross-continent by human power isn’t new: Peter Jenkins walked across the US in the seventies, and Terry Fox attempted a run across Canada in 1980. Producer Jeff Hyland, along with long-time friend Mike Tryon set out on January 1, 2008 to do something similar: cross the continent by bike along the Southern Tier of the United States. And just as Jenkins and Fox set out on their journeys to answer questions and support causes, Hyland and Tryon’s nearly four month bike ride was dedicated to exploring the question “In a world of environmental change, where are we at?”
While more American cities are including bicycling in transportation planning, and even shooting for status as “bicycle friendly communities,” it can still be tough to get around on a bike. Today, during the opening sessions of the National Bike Summit 2010 in Washington, D.C., Google will be announcing its contribution to making biking easier: a bicycling directions option in Google Maps.