Bernal Heights pumps up the volume

New Wheel owner Brett Thurber: "The Solar Pump is mainly a way to start the discussion around sustainable energy practices."

Climb Bernal Hill as a sweaty pedestrian and you just might descend by flying down on a futuristic -- newly charged! -- electric bicycle. Or at least, with a fully-juiced iPhone. Starting this month through the end of the summer, a collaboration between Sol Design Lab and The New Wheel has brought the city's newest solar energy recharging station to Bernal Heights. Plug in your speedy e-bike, or hell, electric toothbrush.

The New Wheel's extensive selection of pedal-activated electric bikes and urban transportation goods and bike shop services -- we recently profiled its owners for being the e-bike pioneers they are -- are enhanced by Sol Design's latest Solar Pump design, which is able to utilize solar energy to charge anything with a standard electric plug. With a single solar panel, Sol Design Lab and The New Wheel pedal-assisted electric bicycle users can get 65 miles for as little as three cents.

"The Solar Pump is mainly a way to start the discussion around sustainable energy practices," says co-owner Brett Thurber. Although an electric bicycle doesn't face the same difficulties in acquiring energy as does the electric car, the Solar Pump has helped to foster a sense of community that Thurber claims is important in The New Wheel's sustainable endeavor, particularly through its ability to charge computers and phones. 

"People are hanging out outside and doing work. I think it's all a part of goodwill," he explains. "It's public power and it's free. That got a lot of people's attention."

The Solar Pump is an ironic re-invention of the1950s gas pump, retrofitting that product of the mid-20th century economic boom with solar panels to encourage and reinforce a vision of carbon-free cities. Originally on tour at music festivals like Coachella and set to make an appearance at this summer's Outside Lands, Solar Pump™ technology provides free solar energy outlets to the public and to charge the store's vast array of bikes.

With the help of the Solar Pump™ , The New Wheel creates a communal space of free-of-charge solar outlets and extensive electric bicycle products and maintenance.  Paired with San Francisco's chaotic city layout of grid street-planning planted atop a naturally hilly landscape, the convenience of the electric bike might be a good answer for wayward progressives who like the idea of clean energy more than the reality of harrumphing their aching muscles and rickety street bikes up Jones Street, and who desperately need a solar outlet to charge their various electronic devices of communication. 

The New Wheel

420 Cortland, SF

(415) 524-7362


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