Whilst little may have been resolved at the climate change summit in Copenhagen last month, the unveiling of a bicycle, which moves by using the kinetic energy from its own wheels, could be described as the summit’s savior, marking a radical achievement in the global quest to slow down man’s self-inflicted destruction on the planet.
Humbly named The Copenhagen Wheel, this bicycle is like no other. Having the ability to recuperate kinetic energy by an electric motor which then stores the surplus power by batteries inside the wheel, the bike is an emblem of new urban mobility. Whilst the process of converting the kinetic energy of wheels into power may not be an entirely new phenomenon, as this technology has transformed Formula One racing during the last two years, the fact that The Copenhagen Wheel is also equipped with a Bluetooth connection and has the facility to connect an iPhone to the handlebars, turns the machine into a hybrid e-bike, and revolutionizes contemporary cycling.
It is perhaps the bike’s cybernetic qualities, which has led to some disagreement surrounding its name. As multiple information is available through an app, including personal fitness, travel data, speed, distances, pollution warnings and weather conditions, an iPhone can even be used to unlock the bike and change gear, some have chosen to call the creation, “Bike 2.0”, symbolizing a renaissance in biking and the design being the first prototype “e-bike”.
But its creators, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Senseable City Lab, chose to christen the bike The Copenhagen Wheel, and shrewdly introduced their mechanism when all eyes where looking, albeit at the world leaders in Copenhagen, who were desperately grappling for global harmonization to combat climate change.
The world’s leaders of course failed, but it hard to imagine that a design like The Copenhagen Wheel, using basic electronics and converting them into on-demand systems, and in doing so becoming a vanguard in tackling the perils of high-consumption lifestyles, could also fail.
Ritt Bjerrengaard, Lord Mayor of Copenhagen, has announced that it is his aim is to have 50 percent of the city traveling to work on The Copenhagen Wheel, and with its lightweight frame, elegant but simple appearance, masking a medley of technologies at their most sophisticated, it is easy to envisage that The Copenhagen Wheel really will be the wheels of the future.