Biking is a great way to make your commute happier and healthier, but outside of the first world, bicycling replaces walking as a faster means of mobility for:
- Women, who typically spend more time than men walking through performing domestic duties like gathering food, water and firewood
- Children, who face long walks to school and arrive too tired to learn
- Healthcare workers, who often walk long distances to provide medication and counseling to people living with HIV/AIDS and malaria in their homes
- Unemployed people, who can start bike shops, delivery businesses, tourism ventures or spin off projects making trailers, racks and other add-ons
Bay Area-based World Bike sends bikes, parts, and skilled teachers to places like Cuba, Mexico, Rwanda, Senegal, and Thailand. This is the story of how the bicycle supports a Kenyan woman’s commerce.
When Lydia needs fertilizer, seed or grain, she buys only what she can carry on her head or, if she’s fortunate to have enough money to ride in a ‘matatu’ (a local bus), she fits more on her lap. When it’s time to sell milk produced by the family’s cow, Lydia takes whatever price is offered by the broker who visits the farm by truck. She has no other means to get the milk to the market, where it would fetch a fair price.
Maya Pedal in Guatemala uses bicycles to make “bicimaquinas”, that are used to de-grain and grind corn, pump water, de-pulp coffee, wash clothes, and more. The human-powered source of power helps families conduct jobs which enable them to send their children to school.
Another group, Movement Bikes, is dedicated to designing and sourcing sturdy bikes that can survive the rugged conditions of places like rural Africa, but can be built and shipped for $10.
There are several organizations doing this sort of work all over the world, and many of them are based within the Bay Area.