Alleviating poverty through the humble bicycle

By Dian Hasan | October 6, 2010

Conceptual design is one thing, but conceptual implementation is another. In a world filled with high-end concept bikes, it’s nice to see someone designing an implementation method to help countries in need. WorldBike is doing just that; designing what they refer to as “low-cost bicycles for programs that increase economic opportunity, improve health outcomes and boost enrollment and gender equity in secondary school among the rural poor.”

It’s centered on the belief that a low-cost, durable and “longtail” bicycle with integrated cargo capacity – a cargo bike – can change the life of someone living in rural poverty by connecting them to markets, schools and clinics. ~ WorldBike

One way that this differs from other programs like Bikes for Africa is the simple fact that Worldbike supplies new bikes, rather than used or donated bikes. These bikes can then be maintained locally and are designed to carry loads while acting as primary transportation in the rugged and rural environments.

Bikes that Haul Trash: … an estimated 8 million people in Kenya live in informal settlements, or what many people commonly think of as slums. The accumulation of trash in these communities is a major hurdle to development, polluting water supplies and attracting insects and rodents that spread disease.Addressing this problem requires collaboration across agencies, nonprofits, and local residents to change attitudes and behaviors about waste disposal and recycling. An important component of the solution involves establishing a system to collect and transport waste from individual dwellings to central deposit sites, where it can be sorted for recycling and disposal. Unfortunately, the lack of adequate roads and high cost of motorized vehicles make the transport of trash with cars or trucks impossible.

Bikes that Haul People: … in East Africa, there is a population of small business entrepreneurs known as “Boda Boda” operators who use bicycles as taxis. Most start their business by purchasing a standard bike and retrofitting it with a locally manufactured seat post and special seat cushion to accommodate passengers in back.

Most locally available parts for Boda Boda bike modifications can cost a premium of 15-20% over the base cost of the bicycle and usually lead to poor ergonomics and reduced power output. The knees of taller riders can hit the handlebars, and some operators experience cycling-related impotence, which is rarely discussed.

Inspiration: Prolly is not Probably

This entry was posted in Africa, Poverty Eradication & Alleviation, Social Entrepreneurship, Sustainability, Uncategorized and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

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