Pedal Power

Photo by Paul McKenzie, Rock the Bike

This past Sunday, the Central Park Conservancy, a nonprofit that partners with the public to restore, manage and enhance its namesake, held an Earth Day celebration that included samples of tasty 100-percent fruit juice, some rockin’ family-friendly music and half a dozen tables of educational materials—did you know that a worm has five hearts?

Though the eco-activities held my attention for only an hour or so, the event deserves kudos. The notion is admirable: Smack in the middle of the concrete jungle that is Manhattan, it was teaching New Yorkers how to live greener lives by offering a daylong concert and exposure to some cool stuff.

The pedal power, by far, was the best part. Let me explain. In front of one of the last tables, a blue stationary bike caught my eye. But this was no common rider. Perched atop the front was a blender, and for a few bucks, I got to ride my way to a delicious strawberry-banana-açai smoothie. No electricity, just my own sheer, human force (ok, it only took about 15 seconds to blend, but still…).

A Bay-area company called Rock the Bike makes these Fender Blenders and a bunch of other fun bike-related products. (The Human Dynamo, an exercise bike that generates usable electrical wattage, follows a similar concept.)

I love the idea. But whether, in this instance, it actually saved energy—don’t forget about the cost to transport the machines to Central Park, not to mention that the blenders were only a third filled for each person—remains to be seen. Either way, the bike—much like the event as a whole—generated interest in the notion of saving energy and being green. And that is good for the environment.

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