A group of students in France crafted wooden, energy-producing stationary bicycles from trash. These novel bikes were recently used to power a film festival screening in St. Étienne.
The whole thing started last year when a group of green-minded engineering students at the School of Mines in Saint-Étienne started an “eco-projections” initiative to show documentary films powered by electricity-generating bikes. They formed a collective called Open Sources and developed several plastic bike prototypes in collaboration with a local design firm.
This year they pushed the envelope. The team constructed new prototypes based on the original bikes, only with upcycled trash for the parts. Slats from old beds were used for the curved seat. The frame came from discarded wooden grocery crates and old church benches, according to the project description. Table legs became the base.
While probably not as comfortable as plush bucket seats at a movie theater, the bikes performed well. Earlier this spring they were deployed for the Curious Travelers Film Festival, a local event that showed documentary films from around the world. At the festival, relay teams pedaling on three reclining bikes produced enough electricity to power a projector for a 54-minute documentary.
Although each bike can only produce around 100W, that’s enough for modest tasks — like running a projector. Granted, bike power certainly isn’t new. Inhabitat’s Lidija Grozdanic pointed out that similar bikes were used to provide power at a music festival in New York a couple years ago. What’s unique here is making them from discarded parts, and giving that trash new life.
The Open Sources initiative indicated that even though the film festival is over, the wooden bikes will continue to have uses. They envision similar relay-style setups with the bikes being used for outdoor film festivals, TED-like talks, and even in a merry-go-round that kids could power themselves.
I could see wooden bikes like this becoming a staple at summer events in the US. When you’re pedaling together to keep the show going, that’s truly community theater.
Photo: One of the wooden energy-producing bikes made from trash. Credit: Open Sources via Inhabitat