In rural Guatemalan towns, traditional energy sources are scarce or nonexistent, making essential tasks like washing clothes and irrigating crops labor-intensive. Maya Pedal, founded by Carlos Marroquin in 1997, repurposes donated bicycles into bicimáquinas, pedal-powered machines that are sturdy enough to perform tasks like lifting water from wells, yet simple enough for children to use.
Maya Pedal’s workshop in San Andrés Itzapa hand-makes each machine from donated used bicycles and salvaged concrete, wood, metal, and other locally available materials. The range of different designs includes water pumps, grinders, threshers, tile-makers, nut-shellers, and blenders, among others.
The bicimáquinas help sustain local businesses. In San Andrés, a women’s collective makes organic aloe shampoo with the help of the “bicycle blender,” using the proceeds to support their families and fund reforestation projects. A local group in nearby Chimaltenango uses a mill/corn degrainer design to produce organic animal feed for its farm. Maya Pedal’s designs are open source, so anyone can build them.
We’re not asked to just do a design; we’re asked to come up with the question that we need to solve.
— Carlos Marroquin