WASHINGTON - Dupont Circle is one of the busiest pedestrian areas in Washington D.C. Now the city is using that to its advantage in a very unique way with kinetic sidewalks.
"They collect energy from pedestrians as they walk," said District Department of Transportation project manager Rick Kenney. "Basically the footfall energy is collected and stored in a battery during the day, and then each evening, there is accent lighting in this pocket park."
The new Connecticut Avenue Overlook park sits on the south side of Dupont Circle. You can see the LED lighting from underneath the benches that serve as a place to sit and take a break.
"Our estimates are that about 1,000 people per hour during rush hour cross the medians here," said Kenney. "Overall, there are about 10,000 pedestrians a day. So what that equates to is about enough energy to provide six hours each evening of LED lighting."
More importantly, the park is "off the grid." As long as people are walking, the lights will always come on. This comes as the country's aging power grid is being pushed to its limit.
"The sky is the limit," Kenney said. "There are sidewalks everywhere and pedestrians in cities are an opportunity to collect energy and power many more devices than just these LEDs on the benches."
The hope is that traffic signals and street lights could also be powered this way.
For now, this is just a pilot program. But project designers see this as an energy saver for the future.