The Earth Institute at Columbia University understands the importance of having a good bicycle. It should be fairly inexpensive, easy to maintain, and get you from point A to point B. That might be why they’ve created the Bamboo Bike Project, an initiative to stimulate the bike building industry in Africa, and to provide a reliable means of transportation to the people living there.

Photo from the Bamboo Bike Projects Blog

Currently, all the bikes in Africa are imported. That fact alone makes it somewhat expensive to get a bike. Couple that with the fact that many people who need bikes are poor and in rural areas where it’s hard to get imported bikes anyway and you’ve got a serious bike distribution problem.

So the smart folks over at Columbia decided to find a way to have reliable, sustainably manufactured bicycles made in Africa. The bikes are sustainable because they’re made out of bamboo, a material that regrows fairly quickly. They provide jobs because the bikes are built locally by Africans, and they cost less because they aren’t imported from far away and the materials aren’t super rare.

The project provides training to those who will be building the bikes to ensure that they are safe and reliable means of transportation. Their website says that their next goals are to provide systematic training, create a supply chain of the neccessary parts, and spread the practice of building bikes in Africa so that it makes an impact. The goal is to make bikes accessible to everyone. I can get behind that.

Learn how to donate to the project here.

photo from the Bamboo Bike Project’s Blog