“Child can still walk to school, at least there will be more food, electricity and maybe new shoes in the meantime”.
What works better: offering a bicycle to a child to go to school or giving it to a household and they will decide how to use it?
A year ago Kristen Wilkins said something very interesting in a tweet.
Which got me thinking again about what’s happening in the distribution of bicycles as a means of getting around. So, the first thing that came to mind was the Shova Kalula campaign which sort of allocated bicycles to children who have moderate commutes to school. While the project itself doesn’t account for topography, and energy. For example, cycling 2km or 5km for a 15 year old is not the same for a 9, or even a 7 year old. Cycling on a steep gradient for 2km may need as much or more energy as cycling more than 3km for any age group. Which is why gears are important. What most teachers in our schools don’t want to deal with are tired kids climbing mountains to get to school because their bicycles don’t have gears.
On the other hand, what happens in a house without a private car, and public transport per day costs as much as a loaf of bread or 5kg of pap? It makes almost perfect sense to take the donated bike as a parent and use it to conduct that extra business the family needs. “Child can still walk to school, at least there will be more food, electricity and maybe new shoes in the meantime”. The policy didn’t think like that. Bicycles are for everyone, and gears are so important.
Bicycles with gears are tremendously handy for any cycling person because they sort of help with the hills you just aren’t ready to face. But that too takes a bit of skill to figure out. Which is exactly what makes electric bicycles so amazing, right? Just ride and get a boost along the way! No. Or these super scooters, just glide on them and get around freely! No. Or better yet, bike sharing! We share the bicycles through some kind of app, I don’t need to own one! Yebo, that cuts all the maintenance and wear and tear issues all the way to the side, like in Miami, Lyon, London– everywhere!
Cycling lessons and road bike maintenance are part of the untranslated policy puzzle pieces around here.
No. In Africa cycling is a powerful propeller for significant economic shifts in households. As an industry, it’s a catalyst for new skills, exports and the genuine excuse to at least process domestic iron ore to make something. There was a time, according to a local historian, when Specialized manufactured bicycles in Bophutatswana, now the North West Province. Today, Qubeka manufactures bicycles in a Klerksdorp but not at the potential scale–last October the argued for more investment in their efforts. The UK’s cycling economy is just mind blowing economic benefit they argue sits at 4:1 (for every £1, £4 of benefits are expected)– plus 64 000 jobs. There’s a long list of reports that persist along the lines of: the more frequently people cycle the greater their likelihood of adding better quality value longer and more consistently– on average. In Africa however the benefits could potentially be much, much, much greater than I’ve actually spent enough time to think about.
Fat burning ideas to fuel our economy in one cycle
A few things worth doing to fundamentally shift the cycling industry in SA:
- Priority treatment at intersections through intelligence, normalization and bike lanes that are not in conflict with city logistics;
- Cycling lessons being part of each and every school and learners license test (if you can’t cooperate on bike don’t bother driving);
- Bicycle maintenance as part of the “technology” module in primary schools– I’ve seen my nephews tear bicycles apart just to see if they could fix them. Professional maintenance should be part and parcel of the social fabric– almost as frequent as wheel alignment, car mechanics and tyre pump stations are.
- Industrial incentives for the bicycle and cycling value chain.
*slime has to do with a liquid in tubeless bicycle tires.
Older riders are cool with baskets and extra tubes. Slime hasn’t leaked here yet unless if you’re sporty. More students are finally cycling between punctures and repairing.