Guatemala: Empowering Communities Through Pedal Powered Machines

Maya Pedal is an organization in Guatemala that specializes in bringing progress through secondhand bicycles. Those that they can repair, get a new life as inexpensive means of transportation in the streets of Guatemala and those that aren't usable as bicycles anymore get turned into pedal powered machines to help in daily work such as pumping water, grinding corn, blending, shelling nuts and making roof tiles.

Demonstrating the Maize Mill in Atitlan by Maya Pedal

Demonstrating the Maize Mill in Atitlan by Maya Pedal

As written about on Central American Politics and the Earth911 website, the Maya Pedal initiative provides needed equipment to communities without the need of electricity or fuels. The following English subtitled video shows some of the machines and the people behind the project:

From the Maya Pedal website:

Pedal power can be harnessed for countless applications which would otherwise require electricity (which may not be available) or hand power (which is far more effort). Bicimaquinas are easy and enjoyable to use. They can be built using locally available materials and can be easily adapted to suit the needs of local people. They free the user from rising energy costs, can be used anywhere, are easy to maintain, produce no pollution and provide healthy exercise.
We make water pumps, grinders, threshers, tile makers, nut shellers, blenders (for making soaps and shampoos as well as food products), trikes, trailers and more.

Maya Pedal also provides instructions and building plans for some of their most popular designs so that people can build their own “bicimáquinas”, what they call their pedal powered bike machines.

You can see some of the machines and work with the communities in this 3 part video series featuring 2003 footage of Maya Pedal: from their process designing equipment according to needs expressed by farmers, to community meetings where their machines are presented and people learn how to use them. They also teach people how to make and repair the bike machines, a necessity when taking them to remote areas.


Join the conversation

Authors, please log in »


  • All comments are reviewed by a moderator. Do not submit your comment more than once or it may be identified as spam.
  • Please treat others with respect. Comments containing hate speech, obscenity, and personal attacks will not be approved.