Bicycles

IFRTD OPINIONS FAIR 2007 - JANUARY WINNER:
 Clarisse Cunha (Namibia)

"We are not alone anymore"

Here are some facts we know: bicycles are the most viable transport solution for short distances in sub-Saharan Africa considering affordability, load capacity, speed, range, maintenance, ease of procurement and infrastructure required. These technical facts are well documented and discussed in several studies. But that is not what I want to discuss here. What I want to discuss is what we still do not know (at least not well enough) about the real changes bicycles bring to peoples’ lives at the most individual level. Do bicycles change a person’s sense of vulnerability and powerlessness? What are the lessons we learn from people we are trying to help? Here is what I have been learning from Namibians.
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A Dangerous Journey - Transport, Education and Safety
by Gregorio Villacorta Alegría


María makes a journey every day on her little bicycle, which was given to her by her cousin who lives in Lima City.  María lives in a small village in the Southern Zone of Peru called Tarata.

She has to ride her “bici” [bike] (the term the children use to describe their intermediate means of transport), for 20 minutes to get to her school.
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So Who Can Ride a Bicycle?
by Michael Linke

If you've ever tried too hard to impress a date you'll sympathise. My date, in this case, was also a colleague from the 'bikes for development' field. We met at a conference, and within a month she took some time off to visit one of my organisation's new partners in Northern Namibia. In an atmosphere of teenage lust and professional curiosity, we had five days of driving to discover the potential for future collaborations of all kinds. We also had a pick up truck full of refurbished, ex-UK Royal Mail postal delivery bicycles to deliver to a small village.
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Sustaining Bicycles as Desirable Rural Transport
by David Peckham

The women of Talensi Area Women’s Development (TAWODEP)and their new bikes, January 26, 2007.  In front are trainers, organisers and assistantsBicycles can serve an important role for rural mobility and poverty alleviation in the less-developed world, where public transportation is scarce and motorized personal vehicles are far too costly for the average person.  In some places bikes already move significant amounts of people and produce, as in China, Vietnam and Uganda.  There, a vast network of bikes, parts, and repair capability reaches far from the urban centers to the remotest areas.  The result is that over a wide area bikes are low cost, reliable and easy to repair.  In much of Africa, however a weak supply infrastructure keeps bikes prohibitively expensive.
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The Bicycle: A cultural exception in the flood-prone areas of Santchou (Ménoua District in West Cameroon province)
By Vivien Meli


In Santchou, the bicycle forms an integral part of the habits and social interactions of people. The bicycle benefits from the lowland relief as well as socio-historical, economic and infrastructural conditions. It is the main means of mobility and rural development in the flood-prone areas in Santchou. Because of its multiple and varied use and its collective presentation, the bicycle forms a cultural exception in the highlands of West Cameroon.
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Cycling in Dhaka, Bangladesh
By Shafiq-Ur Rahman


Bicycles are very rare in the streets of Dhaka City, the capital of Bangladesh. Rather, I would say “there is an absence of cycling in Dhaka”. Despite the unavailability of information about cycling, someone can easily recon it while moving around the city. Compared with other modes, the number of bicycle and trips on it is so minimal that the number would be negligible. Why is it so? Why do we need to think about it?
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