Cycling Towards a Better Future

photo by Randy Olson

Since it’s introduction to the public at the turn of the 20th century, the bicycle has always been placed high on every child’s Christmas wish list.
In some places, however, the bicycle is much more than fancy-free past time.
Many African countries, such as Tanzania, Nigeria, and South Africa are relying more and more on bicycles as a main mode of transit.

Most people in Africa don’t have access to public transportation of any kind, and spend hours every day walking to and from their place of business. When one spends at least four hours everyday walking, plus the hours of labor in between, it comes as no surprise that there is little time left for education, much less for any sort of leisure activity. Bicycling cuts travel time down to a fraction of what it takes to walk, and it has been said that owning a bike in Africa can make the difference between living in poverty versus gaining employment and leading a happy, fulfilled life.

With many burgeoning city centers in Africa trying to become more car friendly, regardless of the fact that only a fraction of the population can actually afford cars, it is vital to recognize the importance that bicycles could play in a developing country.

Projects such as the Bicycle Portraits, which was launched in early 2010 and showcases South African bicycles and their owners, play an important part in raising awareness of the positive affect of bicycles, not only on the individual but on the community as a whole.
Many bicycle aids organizations, such as Bikes for Africa, are paving the way to make bicycles less of a commodity, and more of a way of life. If you’d like to find out more about how you can help, click here.