This week, I find myself in Hamburg, Germany, visiting my youngest son, who works here as a chef. It’s been a while since I’ve visited northern Europe, and I am struck afresh by the many small differences between Canadian daily life and life here. Delicious, strange berries! The coffee culture!
Also, people here are a lot more relaxed about city biking. It’s lovely to see collaboration and friendliness (well, a German level of friendliness) between cyclists and drivers, especially coming from a country where that relationship can get a bit… intense.
Dutch design student George Barratt-Jones has taken the eminently reasonable European pastime of peacefully riding a bike, and turned it into something even cooler — a gadget! Inspired by a cold day waiting for a train and Einhoven station, Barratt-Jones envisioned a stationary bike that powered a loom, which, with five minutes of exercise, would spit out a knitted scarf. So, he built it. From his project description:
“Imagine [it’s] the midst of winter. You are cold and [bored] waiting for your train at the station. This pedal powered machine gets you warm by moving, you are making something while you wait and in the end you are left with a free scarf! That you can decide to keep yourself or give to someone who needs it more… [It’s] all about spreading joy and making those boring moments more fun.”
Check out the video of the Cyclo Knitter in action here!
I love how this designer found a little niche of unused time and turned it into something productive for his fellow passengers. And I love how bicycles are involved! Now, if only we could bring this spirit of collaboration to Canadian biking — though, with our winters, I feel like we’d have to generate snowsuits, not scarves.