Why Bamboo - And Why Bicycles?
B4B will build on the vision and capacities of its sister programs to collaboratively design, manufacture, and distribute critical bamboo products made of regionally grown bamboo, and made by a regionally-trained and employed workforce. Our public / private partnerships will create new businesses opportunities throughout East Africa, affiliated with B4B and devoted to producing quality bamboo products in support of critical community needs.
What is Critical?
Every B4B bicycle or transport accessory produced will represent the B4G mission and related system of beneficial
impacts. Our products will directly and indirectly contribute to improving the quality of life for all. Indeed, we view the resolution of poverty and economic hardship, and general social empowerment, as critical to the successful, sustainable future of the region and the planet.
Every day, across Uganda and East Africa, millions of people, their families, and their home communities face challenges of inadequate transportation and mobility, resulting in personal hardship, lost economic potential, and over-reliance on expensive public transport systems. Further, indications of current and future climate change impacts call for us to reduce our petrol emissions to ensure that our children can inherit and enjoy a world in good health. These and other issues of transport represent opportunities for innovation and action.
This intersection is precisely where bamboo has the potential to become an economic and social catalyst. Local, versatile, fast-growing, and strong – Uganda’s bamboo resources can bring new jobs, new products, new economic development, and new beginnings for people and communities throughout the country. Applying the promise and potential of bamboo to the local creation, development, distribution, and support of bicycles will ensure that Ugandans and all East Africans have the ability to harness the benefits of bicycle ownership. Bicycles, designed for designated purposes, create the potential to:
Pathways to Poverty Reduction
The 2014 UN-sanctioned report, Poverty and Sustainable Transport, provided compelling evidence for the value of improving bicycle transport options:
. . . huge benefits to agricultural production, public health, education and poverty alleviation that can come from improving rural access;
. . . people travelling on rural transport services often need to carry heavy or bulky freight. Farmers wish to carry produce to market and shoppers bring back goods from the market towns. . . mixed passenger-freight transport services are extremely important for poor people;
. . . women living and working in urban areas are disadvantaged when accessing transport services. Women have less access to funds and less access to personal means of transport such as a bicycles, motorcycles or cars;
Women tend to have a very different pattern of trip making to men, undertaking multiple purpose trips, such as taking children to school, shopping, health-related trips and going to work. . . Transport arrangements in peripheral urban areas do not suit women’s needs since they may have to visit scattered facilities and public transport service frequencies are less. Furthermore, the fare structure makes multiple stops costlier, making it difficult to combine household errands.
We recognize that advancements in bamboo bicycle transport options can greatly improve many transport issues adversely affecting rural and urban communities and livelihoods.
B4G recognizes that bicycles constitute the most common mode of transport in Uganda, with 32% of all households dependent on bicycles compared to 9% who own a motorcycle and 4% who own a motor vehicle (Uganda Bureau of Statistics, 2016 – National Census 2014). Cycling is considered the most cost-effective mode of transport due to its speed compared to walking, and affordability compared to motor cycles and vehicles.
Bicycles are used in both rural and urban areas and serve a host other uses including transportation to the markets, health facilities and schools. Within the health sector, health workers have used bicycles for home visits but also as local ambulances to transport patients to hospitals and deliver medicines to patients at home (Rousseau, 2013; Bike4care, 2012).
In urban areas, bicycles are used for passenger transport thus enhancing incomes for the youths who mostly engage in this business. Bicycles have also been used as a tool for women’s economic empowerment (Ride4awoman, 2011).
The bicycle sector is dependent on imports for finished products as well as raw materials, and spares; mostly from China and Japan. According to a 2003 study (Bos et al, 2003) between 120,000-140,000 bicycles are assembled in the country.
B4B will collaboratively design, manufacture, and distribute bamboo products made of regionally grown bamboo, and made by a regionally-trained and employed workforce. Our public / private partnerships will create new businesses opportunities throughout Uganda, affiliated with B4G and devoted to producing quality bamboo bikes to directly address critical social needs. Each bike produced will represent the B4G mission and system of beneficial impacts.
Our process for placing bamboo bicycles into the hands of local citizens is deliberately simple:
- Contact and meet with village and community leaders, local residents: Listen and learn about their experiences, and reveal how bamboo bicycles would be of benefit.
- Together, determine types and scope of transportation needs through the community: how many single riders? What types of cargo? What design would best fit the needs and tasks?
- Introduce the three bicycle designs and invite the community to choose their favorites.
- Mobilize our B4G partners to manufacture and deliver bikes to community ASAP!
- Within each community, open a new B4G Service & Support facility as a delivery site and location for continuous support to keep the bikes on the road!
Our bamboo bike design and performance will reflect industry best-practices:
- High-quality, durable components
- Bike designs to best serve different types of riders and purposes
- Made in, by, and for Uganda.
Four elements will define our ambitious B4B program:
Cargo/Heavy Load Bike
- Design capable of withstanding the rigors of transporting goods and materials over mixed surfaces and terrains
- Design is two or three-wheel compatible allowing for increased stability where needed
- Design positions the cargo in front of the rider allowing for monitoring of cargo
- Design features an upright, rear balanced seating position to allow for an easy, efficient, and safe commute
- Design is capable of carrying multiple passengers or small loads of cargo
- Design is elongated for stability
- Design includes a rear platform for carrying people or securing goods
- Design creates an upright, forward pedaling position adds stability, transit efficiency, and ease of navigation
Single Person Bike
- Design is maximized for transporting a single individual over short or long distances
- Design incorporates a small rear rack for commuting with small goods
- Design can be adapted to both urban and rural lifestyles
- Design allows for all weather features such as larger tires, mud/water fenders, lighting, etc.
Future Research, Design, and Development
- Design easily adds additional storage/cargo space to any bicycle setup
Bicycle Cargo Trailer
Bike Bus Concept
- Design capable of transporting up to seven individuals[
- Design is based on decentralized, unicycle inspired pedaling stations
- Design incorporates a cargo area for transporting small goods
Our Action Plan
Beginning in 2016, B4G is pursuing the following activities:
- Recruit to create an Interdisciplinary Design Team to provide leadership and guidance on all aspects of the B4B program system
- Seek and secure financial and material (in-kind) support for implementation of Action Plan
- Design and launch B4B webpage, social media, and related information materials to support community outreach and engagement
- Research and reveal status of existing bamboo resources in Uganda and throughout East Africa
- Collaboratively determine best-practices for new workforce training, design of facilities and manufacturing processes, and local distribution of and support for resulting products.
Our Intended “high-beneficial impact” Results and General Targets:
- Complete First Generation Bike Designs
- Hire, train, and support farmers to grow bamboo at specified volumes and conditions
- Train and employ new workers to build, deliver, and service the bikes
- First delivery of units per quarter (12,000 per year)
- Locate and open first Service & Support Centres to coincide with unit deliveries.