Especially in the winter, I spend a fair amount of time at the gym. And every time I'm riding a bike or pushing the handles on the elliptical machine, I think "Why is this thing plugged in? Why am I not generating energy, instead of using it?" And I look at all the other people working off their French fries and morning doughnuts and think that at the very least we should be able to generate enough electricity from our exertions to power the machines we are using and the TV screens.
Turns out others have had that same thought, and now the Miami member of the Westin hotel chain, Element (which boasts a number of green features, including kitchens in all rooms, along with healthy food choices) is introducing bikes that power up a mobile phone or laptop while you pedal.
While it is just one stationary bike for now (and another one is coming soon to their Lexington, Mass., property), Element is planning on growing the concept, one bike at a time, according to the New York Times.
Even for those of who aren't ardent environmentalists, isn't there something intrinsically appealing about putting your muscles and sweat into making something useful — energy for a much-used device?
This concept of taking what is currently "wasted" energy — from gyms, and even from many feet walking on the sidewalk or cars moving on the streets — is one that many urban planners see as part of the future of sustainable cities; piezoelectric plates and other energy-absorbing devices will be able to take that energy and utilize it, helping create a lower-carbon city, town or home.