Thursday, February 19, 2009

John's Great Idea for 2009!

Hi there friends.

A few points of reference before things get started. First, some of you (ie. Stewart) know that this is not necessarily a "new" idea of mine. I've been espousing it for at least six months, but, well, now that I live in Vancouver it just seems that, with the people and resources around me, we can actually make it happen. Second, the idea was inspired by one of my former students at Camosun College, Jordan Stout, so if it takes off I just want to say that he deserves the credit. And if you think it's stupid, I just want to say that he deserves the credit...

Here's the idea:

We've all seen and, perhaps, used exercise bikes. Usually in gyms. Sometimes at home. And some of us have witnessed the BC Clettes perform to music powered by one of their members pedaling away on a stationary bike. And that's the idea. Power-generating stationary bicycles.

And it gets better. Bigger, even. The idea is to place hundreds - maybe even thousands - of these stationary bikes all around the Lower Mainland and connect them to the power grid. By riding the bikes, people would be able to produce clean energy for their communities. And they will also get exercise as well as promote healthy living by being "on the street" role models for physical fitness. Here's the kicker: after pedaling for a certain amount of time, the bike shoots out a loonie or toonie! Whether you're a homeless person, investment banker high on caffeine who doesn't want to break a hundred dollar bill, or a kid needing some cash for a bus-ride home, could make money by producing power for the city of Vancouver. Finally, think about the tourist buy-in! Many globetrotters will get their photos taking pedaling away on a bike that provides energy for one of the world's most unique - and greenest - cities.

So there it is. A great idea for 2009. But, Gumboot enthusiasts, I can't do it alone. Here is what I will need from you:

An engineer: I'm an historian and a piratologist who can't do math. I imagine that linking stationary bicycles to the city's power grid will involve some math and, perhaps, also science.

Political buy-in: Gregor? Geoff? Andrea? Are you there? Look, Gregor, I know you like riding your bike because of the above-mentioned environmental and health reasons. Now. Just imagine if everyone in Vancouver got a chance to be as active as you while literally powering our city forward. It's a beautiful, um, vision...

Funding: Preliminary "findings" show that this might be, in the short-term, a rather costly project. So, if anyone is interested in brainstorming some fundraising ideas (bake sale, ponzi scheme, dodgeball tournament), please let me know. In the long term, though, I think that it will be affordable to manage. So, let's set up a few bikes in the downtown area, hook up some fuel cells to store the engery and power some street lights!

Word of mouth:
The most important part of any good idea. Spreading the word, generating interest and transforming the concept of power-producing exercise bikes strategically placed around the Lower Mainland from, well, one person's idea to a meaningful collaborative project that will change the world for the better. C'mon. It's amazing and hilarious in its simplicity.

And that's my idea. What's yours?


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