Downtown Gets Greener

Las Vegas isn’t the greenest place to live.  Plastic bags reign supreme and while everyone carries around cans and yard drinks, there are very few recycling bins to put them in. But this week two improvements show that Downtown is taking steps to become a healthier, energy efficient place to live.

Following the recent installment of the RTC Bike Share program, City Council approved the use for 24 pedicabs and 8 pedal buses Downtown, according to a Las Vegas Sun article. For those who don’t know what pedicabs are, they’re three-wheeled bikes with a cart that hold up to three people and powered by someone with nice calves. The pedal buses are like pedal pubs minus the booze.

And other new transportation options are in the works. City Council postponed the approval of a $980,000, two-year contract with The Free Ride until November 17. The Free Ride is an electric vehicle transportation service that commutes passengers on a pre-determined route. People would be able to catch a ride at a Free Ride stop or via a mobile app. The article states that ads on the sides of the vehicles will help offset the cost.

EnGoPlanetUSBAt Boulder Plaza adjacent to the Arts Factory, the city installed the first-ever Smart Street Lights powered by solar panels and kinetic energy. The smart lamps also have USB ports to charge phones and other devices. The New York City tech startup EnGoPlanet donated four units (each costs around $3,000 to make) to the city, who paid for the installation.  

According to EnGoPlanet CEO Petar Mirovic, one normal street lamp can cost from $180-$250 per year. While the four Smart Street Lights may not produce glacier-saving amounts of clean energy, on a larger scale they can make a huge difference.  There are around 300 million street lights around the world that produce more than 100 million tons of CO2 per year, according to EnGoPlanet’s website. 

The lights are powered by people’s footsteps when they walk on energy pads built into the ground,  and also by solar panels. Depending on where the lamps are installed and how much pedestrian traffic there is, they may use more kinetic or solar power. Mirovic says there are other test subjects in Philadelphia and Oman in the Arabian Peninsula and they are currently working on larger contracts where they would install 200 or so lamps. They recently launched an IndiGoGo Campaign to install Smart Street Lamps in 10 rural areas in Africa.

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