Thursday, 23 July 2009

In Rural Africa bicycles empower education, health & income opportunities, especially for women! Near Affordable sustainable transport for

....people, crops, goods, students and health workers!

Making bikes available and affordable to rural communities is the work of small organisations such as Village Bicycle Project in Ghana and BEN Namibia run by Michael Linke. What is achieved through there efforts is amazing.....!

Is there a need for an African Bicycle, but not just a purpose designed, simple, robust bike with integral cargo frame, the gearing range and large strong wheels to ride over rough country tracks - cargo carrying bikes that can be easily repaired locally. No, we need this project to somehow drive the real need to make quality bikes available in a big African way!

So why not a high profile iconic bicycle and a project that involves the best: those that are doing it now; World famous designers and one of the biggest quality mountain bike manufacturers!

A designed for purpose bike specified in Rural Africa to meet an agreed Success Criteria That includes it being available in rural Africa at agreed Target Prices.

A Bike Supply Project to empower sub-Saharan Africa - its that big.

The bike, would not be something like the wonderful Bullitt fast cargo bikes you see in Copenhagen designed by Larry vs Harry, or the amazing long wheelbase Surly Big Dummy from North America.

No, what I am talking about is simply a bike specified for Africa and African Villagers by the Village Bicycle Project & BEN, yet designed for purpose by people or a designer like Andrew Ritchie of Brompton folding bike fame &/or the design team at Trek &/or one of the great French VTT designers - who have a track record of innovation, of meeting real market needs and delivering against a given success criteria.

Such a project, the bike and the aims would achieve a very high profile. The manufacture would fund design and production and it would trigger an increasing stream of direct aid funding and expanding all the projects throughout rural Africa.

The bike itself could be made in part in Vietnam or Cambodia by the company that makes all the bikes for GIANT and Specialised, with final assembly in Africa at Village Bicycle Projects in Africa in Ghana, the Bicycling Empowerment Network in Namibia etc

The brilliance of the iconic sturdy design and the cost of the bike would assure a ready market. It will look very much like any other bike accept the carrying frame will be a highly integrated part of the bike frame and it would use proven reliable tough component's.

Do you feel as strongly as me about getting this going?

Well this is what Michael Linke of Bicycling Empowerment Network says:-

"Numerous studies have demonstrated that bicycles are an appropriate technology for travelling short distances in developing countries, with the lowest operating costs of all available modes in sub-Saharan Africa.

A standard bicycle carries up to four times the weight, goes twice as far and travels twice as fast as a person walking.

Bicycles will:

  • Improve access to income generation opportunities.
  • Provide sustainable transportation for low-income earners.
  • Increase access to government services, including health care and education.
  • Mobilise home-based care volunteers to visit more people living with HIV.
  • Provide sporting opportunities for young athletes.
  • etc"
I wish to state again that the availability of bicycles also empowers Women!