We love bikes at TreeHugger. But we tend to focus on them as a greener mode of transportation. In many parts of the world, however, bikes have become the starting point for innovative hacks that are intended to reduce manual labor, increase productivity and serve as a tool for economic empowerment.
Take Maya Pedal, for instance—an organization Alex reported on back in 2012. A Guatemalan non-profit that produces "bicimaquinas," or bicycle-powered machines. The income-generating devices range from blenders to milling machines. While the engineering is clever, what's perhaps more impressive is that director Mario Juarez has succeeded in overcoming initial reluctance and skepticism from community members who believed they needed more "high tech" solutions.
With at least one bike pump in this video having been in service for fifteen years, it's fairly clear that these solutions can make a real, long-term contribution to improving people's lives.