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Pedal PowerThe 2009 Seattle Bicycle Music Festival featured a pedal-powered sound system.
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Seattle Bicycle Music Festival Poster
SEATTLE, WA - Sylvie Janecek, the organizer of the 2010 Seattle Bicycle Music Festival, has time on her side. After all, the fest isn't until Sept. 11, so she still has a month to put the finishing touches on this year’s event − plenty of time, considering it came together in just three weeks last year.
“This year, the advantage is that we have way more time,” she said.
They’ve purchased one Pedal-a-Watt, and a team of volunteers is reverse-engineering and building their own system based on it.
“The volunteers are incredible,” Janecek said, “and really into DIY.” Four people are involved with the building.
The group is collecting the parts − a stand to hold the bikes, an inverter, a Volkswagen alternator and a small car battery to hold a backup charge − and expects to construct the system in parts, said volunteer Ryan Saucerman. “It’s a pretty basic system.”
With up to five cyclists generating power on the system, the trick will be getting riders moving as one.
“We need to get people to coordinate,” Saucerman said, noting that it will be similar to a tandem bike in terms of uneven input. They’re looking at attaching the car battery’s low-battery light to a “pedaling too slow” sign to signal riders to pick up the pace, which should be "normal, to slightly strenuous," he said.
The system is also designed to be expandable. “The inverter can handle twice as much energy as we’ll be pulling,” Saucerman said. “The idea is to make it scalable, so more bikes can be added.”
Janecek hopes the system − which can have up to five bikes being pedaled at once to generate power − will be used by other groups for other events.
“We’re not keeping the sound system to ourselves,” she said. “We would love to share this as much as possible.”
Janecek is working on securing the locations and music − a task that shouldn’t prove too hard, since bands have been approaching her hoping to get involved. The lineup isn’t finalized yet, but she said there will be a “huge variety of music,” including Orkestar Zirkonium, No Rey and A Raging Forest.
She’s also hoping to expand the festival to include more stops in different parts of Seattle. “We want to get as many communities and as many people involved as possible.”
The biggest hurdle is finances. “It’s coming together, but I’m still looking for grants,” she said.
It’s a big job, but one Janecek is happy to take on. “Basically, these are my two favorite things in the world: live music and bicycles,” she said, “so I stepped up to organize the event and keep it going.”