News, updates, commentary and more from BikeAthens. BikeAthens is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization based in Athens, GA. BikeAthens promotes transportation and land-use policies that improve alternative modes of transportation, including pedestrian, cycling, and public transit options. The mission of our organization is to make alternative transportation a practical, convenient, and safe option for all citizens of Athens-Clarke County.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Bikes in Africa

An interesting piece from The Economist on bicycle use and culture in Africa.

Thanks to Peter for the heads up.


Groups of concerned cyclists in Europe and America have long shipped containers of used bikes to Africa but this bike aid has yet to roll into a movement with critical mass. Indeed, Africans tend to turn their back on bikes as soon as they can afford anything with an engine. The bike has suffered from the indifference of car-driving rulers. There are hardly any bike paths; few people campaign for pedalling. Cyclists rarely contribute to their own safety. Helmets and reflectors or lights at night are rare. Maintenance is invariably slapdash. Yet, with low purchase and running costs, the humble bike could be a key to mobilising rural Africans and unclogging the cities.

One problem is that few bikes are manufactured in Africa. Some charities customise bikes for rural health workers. A more ambitious plan, led by an American bike-maker, Craig Calfee, and a group of scientists at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory in New York, aims to introduce and sell bamboo bikes in Africa.

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