People Power on Toulouse Pavements
Walking the streets of Toulouse is set to become an empowering experience! Alexandre Marciel Deputy Mayor of La ville rose says the city is giving people power a whole new meaning.
The city authorities are testing pavement slabs fitted with micro-sensors linked to storage batteries which can capture cost-free energy generated as shoppers stroll on them, power walkers pound them and joggers burn off their calories on them according to 20minutes.fr.
The paving slabs in the pilot scheme generate about 30 watts which is sufficient to power street lights directly above them. “Eventually,” says M. Marciel who holds the council’s sustainable development portfolio, ”we could consider storing energy generated in the day-time by pedestrians in high traffic areas that would power street lights elsewhere in the city where there is less daytime pavement traffic.”
Toulouse – home to Airbus S.A.S and the country’s techno-capital- launched the electrifying sidewalks experiment in April.
At the moment, says M. Marciel: “these are just a few paving slabs installed downtown but it’s a unique system and gives us a glimpse of a range of other opportunities for this technology in the city.”
The “intelligent sidewalk” uses technology that was evolved and adapted from that developed by Dutch company Sustainable Dance Club (SDC) the “Sustainable Dance Floor” an idea tested to destruction on the floor of a Rotterdam nightclub where it was piloted late 2008. But the Toulouse authorities insist there is no need for its citizens to start dancing in the streets (although that would be nice): the technology has been refined to capture the kinetics of walking crowds rather than stomping disco fans.
The eight panels installed in Toulouse are a world first and the city hopes they could inspire others to follow and adapt them for various purposes, especially in crowded places like railway stations or sports stadia. The Rotterdam football stadium may soon test the technology on its pitches!.
People-powering-pavements follow another eco-friendly energy-saving scheme introduced by the local authorities at end 2009.
France’s fourth largest city (pop 450,000) installed radical heat sensitive lamp posts which turn on their street lights only as the pedestrian passes. The lamp posts momentarily boost their lighting power when they detect human body heat. Ten seconds later they revert to normal.
Unveiling the prototype at the time M. Marciel said: “We pretty much built this technology ourselves, nowhere else in the world has it”. The deputy Mayor and champion of things green, is hopeful that its people-sniffing lamp standards and pedestrian electrified sidewalks will help cut energy consumption in the city by half.
Well here’s an idea for you Mr Deputy Mayor: stage regular joggers events along a stretch of the power-paved sidwalks, with prizes for those pounders who charge up city batteries the fastest. (It might just catch on!)
Toulouse has form on eco-matters. It was an early adopter of the very popular municipal pick-up-here-drop-there bike service, a cheap and easy way of moving around the centre. This has proved especially useful to book-laden students and to housewives — as the handy pannier carries a good load of shopping, or books.
Story: Ken Pottinger