Bringing in the new calendar year is usually marked with tradition, and for some people, ushering in the year 2014 involved two: exercise and the Times Square New Year’s Eve Ball. New Yorkers and visitors to the city got a chance to help provide electricity to power the ball during the annual New Year’s Eve tradition. As part of a three-day event, people were invited to ride stationary Citi Bike bicycles at a pedal power station to generate kinetic energy. The six bikes were connected to 12-volt deep cycle batteries. Energy generated was transferred to the New York City power grid to offset energy needed to light the New Year’s Eve ball. Each bike was expected to generate an average of 75 watts per hour, according to the Times Square Alliance. “Citi Bikes have energized New York City, transforming it into a far greener place while making New Yorkers more healthy,” Times Square Alliance President Tim Tompkins said in a press release before the event. “Now New Yorkers can do themselves and the world a service by energizing the New Year’s Eve Ball, making the world’s most famous celebration greener and better!” The 11,875-pound ball is about 3.7 m (12 ft) in diameter and features 2,688 Waterford Crystal triangles, according to the Times Square Alliance’s website. The triangles are bolted to 672 LED modules, which are attached to the ball’s aluminum frame. Each LED module has 48 Phillips Luxeon Rebel LEDs in red, blue, green, and white. Citi Bike, which launched in May 2013, is a large bike share system funded in part by a US $41 million sponsorship from Citi Bank. In the seven months since its debut, riders utilizing the offering have jointly propelled themselves more than 17.7 million km (11 million miles), according to Citi Executive Vice President of Global Public Affairs Edward Skyler. The pedal power station highlights “the sustainability of the program,” he said in the release. The program is a unique way in which people are taking green energy to another level. The power generated may not be as high as traditional means. But the method has the added benefit of also serving as a way to exercise. Imagine the possibilities if similar efforts were duplicated in various venues across the US. It could become another educational and physical fitness tool in America’s schools. Hopefully, this event can evolve into a new tradition for people not only in New York but other places across the world. Contact the author, Velda Addison, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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