Alternative mobility parade (and more silly brilliant ideas)

Posted on August 12, 2011

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Recently I have had this crazy idea to have a showcase parade in Cape Town city for cool different types of technology, especially to demonstrate to the public the reality of renewable energy resources (for example: pedal power, wind power etc)

I was particularly inspired by the rumour that WESSA (http://www.wessa.org.za/) is going to be setting up a Sustainablity Commons at their offices in Kirstenhof  soon. (for a good definition of a local Sustainability Commons go to this link: http://www.ru.ac.za/elrc/sustainabilitycommons/)

When chatting about these abstract concepts, I refer often to CAT (Centre for Alternative Technology-Check it out: http://www.cat.org.uk/) a great place in UK with the ‘largest range of installed renewable systems anywhere’ – a place you only hear of in hippy farytales it seems, along with it’s incredible magical machines/set-ups that the average person’s imagination struggles to accept,  for example:

  • Photovoltaics
  • Solar thermal
  • A micro-grid
  • Off-grid and grid-connected systems
  • Biomass combined heat and power (CHP)
  • Hydro
  • Air source heat pumps etc

Seeing is believing my friends, and if we want to convince people that yes, they do need to make some drastic life changes to meet the environmental challenges we are facing as of late, it is neccessary that we SHOW and INVOLVE people!

The main idea behind all this nonsense is that we address the behavioral change issue that so often gets in the way of positive change locally –

I recently had a realisation about people and decided: gimicky and quirky, humorous and fun is the way to go if we want to get peoples attention!

The concept me and Andrew (of the NGO benbikes.org.za) have for this Alternative Mobility Parade is as follows:
We definitely want to create a local version of the Rinky-Dink, a pedal-powered mobile sound system in UK that, as well as making music as you pedal, helps demonstrate power usage by showing the comparison between a normal bulb versus an energy-efficient bulb (and by cycling to power these lightbulbs you can learn for yourself how energy-efficient lightbulbs actually require less energy/pedalling for brightness!)

(to see Rinky Dink check out: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KVRywQRM2H4&list=FLtFOvWRxTlL4&index=8)

We would like to also demonstrate to the public the idea of a more walking- and cycling-friendly city which could be made up of things like:
-Street performance/art
-Workshop spaces
-Alternative technology showcases
-Greening the city (involving NGO’s such as Greenpop)

So, what’s the next step????
BEN org have these things called Dynamo’s which harness power from bike wheels as you cycle
(http://pilom.com/BicycleElectronics/Dynamo.htm)
and we are thinking we could hook these things up to light bulbs (one energy-efficient and one non) – another option, suggested by a friend, is that instead of using the dynamos ‘..using rechargeable batteries charged by solar and LED bike lights’ to power the bulbs.
The plan is to get something up and running by Heritage Day, so we can have a nifty little example of a renewable energy gimmick to show people at a cool parade Andrew has in mind.

I, however, have very little knowledge of how things work on the mechanical/physics level. So I need someone in the know to pop down to BEN’s offices in Marina Da Gama with me sometime to check out these Dynamo’s thingys and see if my mad/awesome plans are actually viable.
Any techno-savvy genius’ out there with similar passions/and or crazy ideas? =)

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Interesting and related idealogies and thoughts:

during a recent meeting Andrew made mention of the 5 pillars of sustainability:

1-less use of petrol
2-Reduce of energy and petrol consumption/Energy use at home cut down and Use of ur private car less
3-Planting tress/making city more green and indigenous
4-Buying and eating local
5-Recycling

Some of my thoughts and ideas that arose from that meeting:

Platform for showing what life would be like if we took back our streets
Street performance
Street art

Showing foliage on the street
Workshops on sustainability

People being involved
Asked what they think!

lets build cities for walking and cycling
‘lets take back our streets!’

fun bicycle races
bicycle gadget competition

and it could go on…

if you have any ideas give me a shout! at rachelbriant@gmail.com

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Existing local ‘sustainability’ projects:

– Rhodes University Sustainability Commons (http://www.ru.ac.za/elrc/sustainabilitycommons/)
– Sustainability Institute (near Spier on the way to Stellenbosch or Goedgedacht farm near Riebeeck (http://www.sustainabilityinstitute.net/)

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Some more cool links re this idea. Check out for inspiration:

the Rinky-Dink website – http://www.baka.co.uk/rinky

http://www.vintage-bicycles.com/dynamo-hub/

http://www.sheldonbrown.com/dynohubs.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sturmey-Archer

http://www.reuk.co.uk/Sturmey-Archer-Dynohub.htm

http://www.greenenergysa.net/

http://workingbikes.org/taxonomy/term/3047

http://www.pleasantrevolution.net/about-this-blog/

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