"Visitors to the Lake Harriet bandshell on Sunday likely noticed a strange metal box trailing two black tubes across the bicycle path.
No, it's not another water purifier "bomb," but part of an art project run by the Center for Energy and the Environment as part of Bike Walk Week. The box contains a counting device, which reads the amount of pressurized air forced out of a tube when something passes over. According to project co-creator Joshlyn Goepfrich, the system can tell the difference between a car, a bike, a roller blader, and even a stroller.
Sounds pretty science-y, right? Here's where the art comes in. Ever day this week, the Center places their counter in a different location along the city's bike paths. Every evening, Goepfrich, artist, Arlene Birt, and their colleagues take the day's data, crunch some numbers, and figure out just what all those bicycle trips are doing for Minneapolis.
Take Sunday, for example. The 2,047 riders who passed the counter "saved society $20,470 in clean air costs" and 198.7 gallons of gass, according to the Center's website. Those riders probably also burned a collective total of 188,324 calories, the site said. All those stats are then projected on the side of landmarks and buildings across Minneapolis that night, from 9 p.m. to 10 p.m.
"This creates a visual impact for people," Goepfrich said. "It shows how their individual actions contribute to a greater impact. Together, all those bike trips add up."