GOOD

At SXSW, an Electric Bike Offers a Path to Conscious Commuting

Conscious Commuter is showing off a fully collapsible, electric bicycle at this year's SXSW Green Zone

For bike commuting to become a practical option for the average office worker, it may have to clean up its act. Not everyone can show up to work with grease-streaked pantlegs, pit-stained and panting. Bleary-eyed morning routines are challenging enough without turning them into an athletic achievement. Plus, hauling most bicycles onto public transportation can be more trouble than it's worth in many unequipped transit systems.


While designer Gabriel Wartofsky was analyzing these challenges as a student in the transportation design program at Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California, serial entrepreneur Bob Vander Woude was noticing an electric bicycle boom firsthand while doing business in China. "This is interesting. This is gonna pick up," he thought to himself, wondering if the U.S. market was ready. "I’d be in China three weeks and I kept seeing more and more." Vander Woude's research proved him right. He cites a report from Electric Bikes Worldwide Report that found electric bikes will be one of the world's top industries by 2025 with 130 million bikes sold per year, four times the current haul.

Wartofsky went on to design a prototype for a lightweight, folding electric bike that allows users to pedal as much or as little as they need to. If a rider is tired or going up a steep hill, an electric, chargeable motor makes the front wheel move with the squeeze of a throttle. When the biker gets to the office or bus, the 25- to 30-pound bike folds up into a portable package.

When Vander Woude saw a video of Wartofsky's prototype, he was stunned. “I remember the hair standing up on my arm and the animation folding together. There’s nothing like it.” The pair united, started the company Conscious Commuter, and put the wheels in motion to bring the vehicle to market.

This week the duo is at South by Southwest, giving revelers—sober ones, that is—a chance to test ride the bike at the Whole Foods-sponsored "Green Zone," an area for green companies to strut their stuff. The bike can legally go up to 20 miles per hour on the road, can travel 15 to 20 miles before it loses its charge, and has an ergonomic design that's easy on the back. The founders say the bike will be available for sale later this year for around $2,500

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I4f6yApey_w&list=UUmVP62lCDLfLrhD3g0xhzrw&index=10&feature=plcp

Images courtesy of Conscious Commuter

Articles

McDonalds sells a lot of coffee. Over a billion cups a year, to be exact. All that coffee leads to a lot of productive mornings, but it also leads to a lot of waste. Each year, millions of pounds of coffee chaff (the skin of the coffee beans that comes off during roasting) ends up getting turned into mulch. Some coffee chaff just gets burned, leading to an increase in CO2.

Now, that chaff is going to get turned into car parts. Ford is incorporating coffee chaff from McDonalds coffee into the headlamps of some cars. Ford has been using plastic and talc to make its headlamps, but this new process will reduce the reliance on talc, a non-renewable mineral. The chaff is heated to high temperatures under low oxygen and mixed with plastic and other additives. The bioplastic can then be formed into shapes.

Keep Reading Show less

For over 20 years, our country has perceived itself as more divided than united, and it's not getting better. Right after the 2016 election, a poll conducted by Gallup found that 77% of Americans felt the country was divided on the most important values, a record high.

The percentage of Americans who agree that we disagree got higher. During the 2018 mid-term elections, a poll conducted by NBC News/Wall Street Journal found that 80% of Americans felt the nation was "mainly" or "totally" divided.

We head into the 2020 presidential election more divided than ever. A new poll from USA Today found that nine out of ten respondents felt it was important to do something about the conflict in our country. We can't keep on living like this forever.

Keep Reading Show less
via Honor Africans / Twitter

The problem with American Sign Language (ASL) is that over 500,000 people in the U.S. use it, but the country has over 330 million people.

So for those with hearing loss, the chances of coming into contact with someone who uses the language are rare. Especially outside of the deaf community.

Keep Reading Show less