Not everyone was searching out the latest and greatest bicycle products as the doors to the Sands Expo Halls opened yesterday. More than 70 people spent the first 90 minutes of the first show day hearing from six organizations that promote bikes as a way to increase access to healthcare, education and jobs for the world’s poor. The industry group, named “One Goal Many Solutions,” presented brief descriptions of its individual programs and ways for interested retailers and suppliers to get involved.
“To have people give up the first 90 minutes on the first day of the show is testimony of the interest so many people have in what we are doing,” said F.K. Day, SRAM’s executive vice president. Day also is president of SRAM’s World Bicycle Relief program.
“Our common bond is our realization of the power of bikes to assist the poorest people on the planet,” he added.
The different organizations that form this industry group and their respective projects as well as displays of many of the bike designs being used for health worker transportation and for freight hauling are on display this week at the show at Booth 1330.
SRAM’s World Bicycle Relief also is handing out results from the economic impact study it conducted on its post-tsunami Sri Lankan project. This is the first economic impact study that evaluates how bicycle distribution helps stimulate the economy.
Bicycling publisher Steve Madden talked about the Bike Town Africa program and said the magazine wants to involve more of its readers it the project next year.
Brad Schroeder, Institute for Transportation and Development Policy (ITDP)’s senior program director, explained its California Bike Coalition project and invited Mike’s Bikes retailer Matt Adams to talk about his experience on the program.
Ben Capron of True talked about the Sister Shops project, where U.S. retailers partner with bike shops in developing economies to help them start their business. Mike’s Bikes was the first program participant.
Capron also described a new program called Sister Levels, which allows U.S. bike shops to buy in with an $1,890 donation that buys $680 worth of shop tools, 10 refurbished bikes, business and mechanical skills training and advertising signage to help launch a new bike shop.
Ritchey founder Tom Ritchey described his company’s Project Rwanda, which has expanded to include the design and production of a coffee bike to help Rwanda’s small farmers gain a piece of the country’s growing coffee business.
Wheels for Life founder Hans Rey described his group’s work in 14 countries. His organization teams up with local aid organizations to get bikes to families in need of transportation.
And SRAM’s Day described World Bicycle Relief’s new project in Zambia, whereby he hopes to distribute 2,300 bikes and train 400 mechanics by April 2008. —Matt Wiebe
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Industry Group Brings Bikes to Poor