19 November 2011

Power To The People: Bicycles At Occupy Wall Street

I haven't been posting as often as I had been a few months ago, mainly because my classes are bigger this year and, it seems, falls into one of two categories: those who need more and those who demand more.  I guess that's just part of being in the current economic situation.

And so is Occupy Wall Street.  I've gone to it three times and learned that bicycles are becoming an integral part of their protest, movement, or whaotever you want to call it.  That's not surprising, really, when you consider than in much of the world (and, increasingly, in some parts of the US), bikes are transportation for the "99 percent."  And, as a form of recreation, it's far less energy-intensive, and less expensive than other activities.

However, bikes are an important part of OWS for practical reasons.  Some of the protestors got there, or come and go (as I did) on two human-powered wheels.  Some of those who've stayed are transporting food and water (which, interestingly,they're getting from the taps of local homes and businesses) on bike-towed trailers or tricycles.  

But what I found most interesting of all can be seen in this photo:

Yes, this young man is powering his cell phone and laptop computer with  power he pedals into a generator.  Someone at OWS started rigging up these bicycle-powered generators after police seized the gas-powered ones they'd been using.  Now, in addition to making power for cell phones, laptops and other electrical and electronic devices, the generators are being used for a variety of milling and grinding purposes, including the making of compost, which they are using themselves in Zuccoti Park and giving to farmers who are selling fruits, vegetables and other foods in nearby markets.

While I'm on the subject,  Crowdrise, Times Up and other organizations are accepting donations of bicycles, as well as tires, tubes and other parts--and, of course, money to buy bikes and parts--for OWS.

If OWS turns into a full-blown revolution, will bicycles be credited (or blamed)?  After all, what revolves more--and is therefore more revolutionary--than a bicycle wheel?


  1. Thanks for posting! I had heard bits and pieces about bikes and OWS, so it's great to have a first hand account. We'll see where this whole thing goes . . .

  2. Hello Cherilyn, Thank you for the encouragement. I can't say specifically what OWS might accomplish, or whether it will indeed accomplish anything tangible. However, I think the movement will continue spreading and, interestingly, its message could become more coherent as it becomes more inclusive.