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Smart Bikes Come To Denmark

MIT researchers unveiled a major new project aimed at transforming bicycle use in Denmark's largest city, Copenhagen. The project, called Smart Biking, will use a self-organizing smart-tag system that will allow the city's residents to exchange basic information and share their relative positioning with each other.

Map of Denmark's Bike RoutesMap of Denmark's Bike Routes

The project will be implemented in time November 2009 just in time for the U.N. Climate Change Conference, which Copenhagen will be the host city for.

"One of the most striking aspects of Copenhagen is that it is already a very sustainable city," said Carlo Ratti, Director of MIT's SENSEable City Lab, which is overseeing the Smart Biking project. "A considerable fraction of its energy comes from renewable sources and... 30 to 40 percent of its citizens use bicycles as their primary method of transportation."

How will the users track each other, with Facebook, of course. "We have developed a Facebook application called 'I crossed your path,' which creates a social network for cyclists, allowing them to link up with people they may have ridden past during the day and potentially establish new connections," explained Christine Outram, the principal research assistant on the project.

The smart tags will also allow individuals to monitor the distance they travel while cycling as part of a citywide "green mileage" initiative, which is similar to a frequent-flyer program.

a prototype of a smart bicycle is being developed in collaboration with the MIT Media Lab's Smart Cities Group at the MIT Media Lab. This hybrid bicycle uses a regenerative motor to harvest the energy created when braking and release it while cycling, in a manner similar to hybrid cars. Everything, including the battery, is packed in the rear wheel, which becomes a self-contained element that could be retrofitted on most existing bicycles.