Old Bicycle Parts Are Powering a Green Economy & Improving Lives

Originally published on TakePart.
By Emily Gertz

A Guatemalan group called Maya Pedal designs and builds “bicimáquinas,” pedal-powered machines engineered from reclaimed bicycle parts. The different designs make all sorts of labor-intensive work easier, from pumping water to grinding corn for chicken feed. That translates directly into more money for low-income people.

The average annual income in Guatemala in 2012 was $3,242, according to the United Nations. But with around 54 percent of the population living below the poverty line, most people make far less—on the order of $2 to $3 a day. So even small upticks in income can make big differences in a family’s health, quality of life, and educational opportunities.

A bonus: The machines emit no greenhouse gases or other pollutants once they’ve been built.

In this video [above] produced by Makeshift, Maya Pedal director Mario Juarez takes viewers along to check in on the group’s workshop and visit a few bicimáquina users.

Maya Pedal has instructions online for building several of the machines in English, and a few in Spanish as well. It’s easy to imagine some of these designs being adapted for use in the United States, perhaps to help people combine their exercise goals with carbon footprint reduction—saving both energy and the cost of a gym membership.

Reprinted with permission.






About the Author

lives in southwestern New Mexico and digs bicycles, simple living, organic gardening, sustainable lifestyle design, slacklining, bouldering, and permaculture. He loves good food, with fresh roasted chiles at the top of his list of favorites. Catch up with Derek on Twitter, RebelMouse, Google+, or at his natural parenting site, Natural Papa!
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