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Reinventing the Wheel

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We’ve probably all heard it before: don’t duplicate what has already been done, we don’t need to ‘reinvent the wheel’. While this popular saying (with an origin as slippery as soap I discovered) almost always is used as a figure of speech, what if it was taken literally? And a more interesting question to pose, what if someone didn’t just take it literally, but took it to heart?

Meet the Copenhagen Wheel, proof that sometimes we do need to reinvent and rethink what we already have. Named in honor of Copenhagen, a city where about 50% of the population commutes by bike, and bikes outnumber inhabitants, the Copenhagen Wheel “transforms your bicycle into a smart electric hybrid” by replacing your bike’s normal back wheel with a high tech alternative.

The people at Superpedestrian, the company that makes the wheel, sought to not only reinvent the wheel, but reinvent how we use it. What makes this innovative product unlike other hybrid bikes is that it really is what it says: a wheel. Through a motor that is powered by batteries and a regenerative braking system, the wheel aims to make traveling by bicycle more accessible by multiplying your pedal power anywhere from 3x-10x as much when you need it. The result is that trips that seem unfeasible due to long distances or hills suddenly become a breeze.

While the Copenhagen Wheel drew my attention, further research revealed other inventive alternatives in the realm of hybrid bicycles. Whether or not these products or something more low-tech like a bike-sharing program call your name, I still encourage everyone to look into making biking a greater part of their life.

From my experience, it seems like a lot of people opt out of biking not because it is too difficult, but because they believe it doesn’t make much of an impact. I strongly disagree. Studies have shown that if you replaced a drive with a short, four-mile round trip bike ride, you keep about 15 pounds of pollutants out of the air, a number that quickly adds up. If this wasn’t a big enough motivation, research has found that urban cyclists are exposed to less accumulated air pollution and have significantly lower levels of harmful pollutants like benzene than car and bus commuters. You don’t need to search hard to find the numerous other health benefits biking has on both the health of the environment and our bodies.

When you are thinking of your future travels, whether it is a commute or pleasure trip, I hope this article will make a biking option seem a little more appealing.



I am a recent graduate of UC San Diego where I completed a double major in Ecology and the Humanities. I am currently applying to graduate programs in Environmental Management and am in the process of writing a fantasy novel

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