There are many potential answers to this question, but I think one of the best (and greenest) ways for humans to generate power is with their feet, by walking and bicycling. As gas prices and concern with the impact of fossil fuels have risen in the past 20 years, so has the number of people who commute by bicycle. Some cities, such as Portland, Oregon, have embarked on elaborate projects to make their cities bicycle-friendly, by installing bike racks in many locations and “bike boxes” at busy intersections to facilitate the interface between cars and bicycles. It’s paid off, too: human power in places like Portland has increased dramatically. Even if you don’t have a bike, your feet can still save carbon emissions. Walking to the store or wherever you need to go is a terrific way not only to save fuel and money, but also to get exercise. Some companies, such as the UK’s Pavegen, have taken “foot power” to a new level by developing pads that lay flat on the ground and generate electricity when people walk on them. Pavegen’s unique mats have been used at busy foot-traffic crossings in London and even on the dance floors of nightclubs to cut into the power expenditures of businesses that install them. While I’m sure more “human powered” gadgets will go on the market in years to come, I think the ones with the most staying power will tend to be the simplest.
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