Thursday, March 01, 2007

Wow, that's a slap in the face

The Wall Street Journal has a front-page article this morning about a health club in Hong Kong that has hooked up some of its elliptical exercise machines to run its lights. The machines had little generators in them already to light up their own displays, but most of the power was wasted as heat. Rewired, they run several fluourescent lights. The article goes on to talk about other efforts along these lines; generating power from backpacks, dance floors, even heel strikes of Army boots, something the military's been looking at. Of course, says the article, this has a long history. Old phones had a crank that generated electricity when you wanted to make a call, you can get windup radios and flashlights and...
Some people have been capturing their own sweat for years, including children on bicycles whose pedaling generates electricity to operate their headlights.

Yep, lots of SON hubs on those Huffys! The emphasis was mine, not the Journal's.

It will be interesting to see if dynamo hubs get more popular as the light output of LEDs rises but remains well within the output of the hubs (about 3 watts). A 3 watt bulb is OK, the 3W LEDs are getting really bright.

The online Wall Street Journal requires a subscription so I'm not linking to it.

Separately, Wells Fargo seems to have got a reprieve. Longtime readers may recall that I was not allowed to make a deposit last July in the drive-through lanes of the local Wells Fargo bank branch. A desultory correspondence with Wells Fargo yielded conflicting answers as to whether this should be allowed and the suggestion that I just go inside. I relished the idea of dragging my filthy dripping bike into the Arden Hills branch, which at that time had no bike racks, but in November some racks appeared. Now, the small church that employs my wife as a superb Music Director started offering direct deposit, and she signed up. Both Februrary paychecks have appeared all by themselves in the account. I was chastised by some commenters for not having done this earlier, and I have for years in my own employment, but it was only just offered by the church. Wells Fargo has averted my wrath a bit longer.

Finally, despite this being a worthless winter for me riding (I've been gone a lot, either on business trips or working on my father's house in Des Moines), I was named to the Saint Paul Bicycle Advisory Board on January 24th. Unfortunately, they didn't tell me until February 6th, the morning of what should have been my first meeting, and I was in Des Moines scraping wallpaper off walls at the time. It is a pity I wasn't informed on time because I would have gone to the Iowa Bicycle Summit on Thursday/Friday February 1/2. I drove to Des Moines that Thursday evening anyway, I would have just gone a day earlier and gone to the Summit.

Fortunately, my longtime cycling and house-repairing buddy Paul went. He was about to spend a bit more than a week scraping wallpaper, ripping up carpet, painting, repairing, throwing out stuff, etc. with me. He sent me these links:

The Iowa Bicycle Coalition.

Iowa Department of Transportation Bike Site. Iowa does a bike-specific state highway map which is clever. They of course get huge numbers of riders for the annual RAGBRAI ride and my sister emailed yesterday and said it's ending up in Bellevue again this year, where she lives.

Iowa Bicycle Summit homepage which has links to the Powerpoint presentations. The one called "Bicycle Facility Design" took all day Thursday. Paul also liked the one called "Road Diet". These have lots to do with traffic engineering--lane widths, three lanes versus four, etc. Over the weekend, scraping wallpaper and talking about the Summit, we were both consumed with a desire to take tape measures out to streets and measure some lane widths. As with most Powerpoints, these would be better with the accompanying narrative, but they're still something to chew on.

There was a separate link about Bicycle Boulevards.

Like I said, if I'd known that my Ascent to Power had commenced, I would have taken another day off and gone to this summit, but I wasn't informed until too late. I got the materials from the Saint Paul Bicycle Advisory Board and my first meeting is March 6th, so I'll add my voice to that group and probably be better-informed about what's going on. In the meantime, I am the Ward 5 representative, and so one of my first goals is to ride every street and visit every tavern in Ward 5. Don't know where Ward 5 is? Yeah, neither did I. It abuts Larpenteur on the north (the north city limit), then basically runs from Hamline east and north of Front to Dale, then north of the BNSF railroad tracks east to Edgerton.

Anyway, March is here, and although it's snowing like a bastard at the moment, the weather will turn much more promising in the next few weeks. I have a couple of more weekends to do down at Dad's, but with luck we'll sell the house this spring and be done with that time sink.


Richard Jennings said...

FYI - you can get free access to the Wall street Journal site with a netpass from:

Frostbike said...

Congrats on the election results. Riches and corruption can't be far behind!

Mark Wyatt said...

I wish you could have made it to the Iowa Bicycle Summit this year. Great speaker. Put it on your calendar for next year!