Photo by David Shankbone, c/o Time's Up!
“The first bike was a really big hit, within the community. We brought it in late at night, and people sort of just flocked to it. We had a light going, because we hooked up a light and a radio to it, and it was like moths to a flame.” The bikes grabbed so much attention, he says, that “It was actually a little bit problematic for us working on the bikes at the park, though we were trying to do a lot of the wiring and stuff there, because the volunteers really wanted to be there, in that space…it was a magnetic space.”
The first bike got people in the movement interested in creating a more extensive energy system, and drew in passersby who had skills to share or wanted to learn more. “People knew what we were doing because we got coverage for that first bike, and then very professional electricians, a nuclear physicist, who ended up making our electrical schematic, they just stopped by at the park, and they would say, hey, I heard what you’re doing and I want to help.”
“People just poured out of the woodwork to help with it. It was difficult to manage that many volunteers,” he laughed.
Time's Up! and the Sustainability workgroup collaborated with other organizations like Brooklyn Machine Works, Occupy Boston, Pedal Power NYC, and MIT Pedal Power to get the bikes up and running, too.
Judging by the overwhelmingly positive response to the bikes, creating power together is incredibly empowering—all the more so in this case because people generated this power with their own bodies. Anyone could hop on a bike and start peddling. The power used by the people came from the collective efforts of the people—and the people’s collective skills in creating this energy system.
Photo by Brennan Cavanaugh, c/o Time's Up!
However, the experience of creating and using the bike generators taught members of the movement, and the greater public, a lesson that won’t be so easily lost—that sustainable energy systems are more viable than we might think. And the bonds formed by this experience certainly will remain strong. By combining our skills, we can lead each other into a radically healthier world, building vibrant community in the process. Keegan and Time’s Up! plan to continue promoting sustainable energy in the NYC community with the energy bikes. In fact, he says, spinning classes have approached them about generating power with their bikes, so perhaps the project will have more widespread effects than anyone even imagined.