Bikes for the World

Monday, April 22, 2013

A Twist: Bringing Bikes BACK From Africa

In honor of Earth Day, a post about why I love my bike! In an odd twist, this bike was actually imported from Africa, instead of the other way around.

Bikes for the World collects and ships over 10,000 bikes annually in and around the DC area. Many of these bikes end up in Central America and Africa. In fact, last year alone, BfW shipped over 13,500 bikes to about a dozen countries, including the Philippines.

Bikes for the World operates to make quality used bicycles and parts affordable and available to lower income people and select institutions in developing countries to enhance their lives and livelihoods through better transport. BfW also places a high emphasis on the bike's ability to generate employment especially through bicycle repair and maintenance.

Courtesy Zambikes
Another group interested in a similar focus is Zambikes in Africa. The Zambike mission is actually dedicated to saving lives by connecting villages to critical medical treatment in Africa through transportation solutions. Their focus: The Zambulance.

Zambikes creates local jobs by creating and building locally, in Zambia and Uganda, high quality, affordable bikes built specifically for African roads. They also build specialty carts to haul product and people. Oh, and let's not forget  bamboo bikes, built using locally grown and sustainable materials for the global market.

If you've been to a BfW event, especially a 'green' event, you may have seen my Zambike in person. It's made with bamboo, hemp, and resin and it's a great ride! People always stop and ask about it, some telling me about their failed attempts to make one of their own. I've had this bike for about two years now and it's held up great. It rides a bit like steel but without the weight. It absorbs the bumps in the road and smooths them out in way unlike aluminum. It's absolutely perfect for the city bumps in and around DC. The frame itself weighs about 11 lbs.

More importantly this bike, and others like it, creates employment for over 35 Zambians. Below you can see John cutting the bamboo from a field, Danny baking it for strength, Mazimba working the jig, Esnard affixing logos, and Stain (I'm guessing a nickname) spraying the final product.
JOHN courtesy Zambikes
DANNY courtesy Zambikes

MAZIMBA courtesy Zambikes
ESNARD courtesy Zambikes

STAIN courtesy Zambikes

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