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Two wheels good - July 6

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Bicycles: Transportation for Everything (wooden bikes)

Erik, AfriGadget
One thing that I've always been amazed with is the limitless uses that bicycles are put to in Africa. It really is amazing to see them hauling everything from people, to 10 stalks of bananas, to coffins.

The "Black Mamba" bicycle - Low cost, steel-framed, traditional bicycle imported to Africa from England in the 1900s, revolutionizing road transport in Africa. A sturdy and reliable workhorse now to be found in the remotest corners of the continent.

Boda Boda - The bikes found in Central and East Africa used as taxis. The term came from being located on the border. The bodaboda taxis are part of the African bicycle culture, they started in the 1960s and 1970s and are still spreading from their origin (the Kenyan-Ugandan BORDER) to other regions.

Wooden Bike Wooden Bicycles - Handcrafted, locally made bikes using wood and rubber for the tires. Yes, they do have brakes, which are much needed in the mountainous areas of Uganda, Zaire/Congo, and Western Kenya. [Look closely at the photo.]

Banana Hauling - I was truly amazed as I travelled through the villages in Eastern Uganda to see the amount of banana stalks that could be loaded onto one of these bikes. The most I ever counted was 12 stalks, but I'm sure that someone out there can say they saw someone beat that recored. I'm digging through my archives for a picture of the 12 stalks, but until then this one will have to do.

The Fundi - Ahh, the bicycle fundi, a magician with a baiskeli. Using only a pair of plyers, an old innertube and bailing wire he can make your ride new again! Don't worry, if the innertubes are beyond repair and you have no money to buy new ones, my friend the fundi will show you how to pack grass into the tire to make it like new.
(29 May 2007)
More great photos at original article.
Suggested by Big Gav who can't stay in hibernation. He adds: "The true blue doomers won't have to worry about not being able to get around when there is no more oil after all :-) " -BA


French revolution: Rentable bikes every 900 feet

Robert Marquand. Christian Science Monitor
Beginning July 15, Parisians can get one with the swipe of a card - and the first half-hour is free.
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Paris - The socialist mayor of Paris, Bertrand Delanoë, has seen the future and it's got two wheels, three speeds, an adjustable seat, indestructible tires, a basket, and a bell. It's 50 pounds of ecofriendly handlebars, comin' at ya.

The French are turning Paris into a bicycle zone, pretty much overnight. Even now, astride small alleys and behind boulangeries, paving stones are being ripped to fit 750 bicycle rent "stations."

On July 15, a day after the French Revolution anniversary, the city of lights will kick off a "vélorution" with 10,648 rentable bikes, or vélos. By January, some 1,400 rent stations and 20,600 bikes are scheduled to be in place. In Paris proper, one will never be more than 900 feet from a set of cheap wheels. At least theoretically.

Similar programs have been launched elsewhere with varying success. But Paris officials say their city is the first world capital to adopt a major green biking initiative, and they are doing it in a way that may be too big to fail. The ambitious Paris project is titled Vélib' - wordplay for bicycle freedom. Read: freedom from too many cars and carbon fumes.
(6 July 2007)

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