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Hotel, prison encourage guests to generate own energy via pedal power


You’ve heard of singing for your supper, but in this environmentally conscious age, institutions are now inviting patrons to pedal for privileges.

As part of an environmental awareness campaign, the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Copenhagen is offering a free meal to guests who produce energy on one of the hotel’s iPhone-monitored, generator-enabled exercise bikes.

The world-first initiative, due to commence on 19 April and run for a year, will award a 26 euro meal voucher to any guest who produces 10 watt hours of electricity (approximately 15 minutes cycling for non-Lance Armstrong types).

Hotel management expects the vast majority of guests who take up the offer will be regular business travellers engaging in their normal fitness regimes, with only the odd guest motivated specifically by the free meal. Cycling is big in the Danish capital, with around 36% of the population riding to work every day.

In a similar ­- though more austere – initiative, inmates at Tent City Jail in Phoenix, Arizona are now required to pedal an exercise bike if they want to watch television.

Joe Arpaio, known to some as “America’s Toughest Sheriff”, launched the “Pedal Vision” programme after learning that over half the inmates were overweight.

The TV room in the prison now contains an exercise bike that, when pedalled, powers the 19-inch TV. Only inmates who have agreed to participate in Pedal Vision are permitted in the TV room.

According to Arpaio:

“If an inmate slows down and fails to pedal fast enough, an audible noise sounds off to warn inmates that the TV is shutting down. Peer pressure will have them pedalling, at least right up to the commercial breaks.”

The initiative was first launched with women inmates, who were said to be more receptive to the idea.

The idea of harnessing kinetic energy produced by humans to generate electricity is far from new. In 2008 we noted a nightclub in London that was harvesting energy from its dance floor sufficient to power 60% of its needs. And earlier this year we wrote about Pavogen Slabs, a UK invention that captures footpath energy and feeds it into the local grid.

Photo: Kelley Mari