Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Social Bike Models at Velo-city Conference

In just a few days I will be on my way to Nantes, France to take part in the Velo-city conference. I enjoy attending this international bicycle conference, not only for reconnecting with my bicycle friends from around the world, but for its concentration of knowledge on the latest improvements for bicycling. There will be lots of sessions on changing cities to encourage more bicycling as well as programs that inspire more people to ride.

On the last day of the conference, I will have the opportunity to present about Social Bike Business and Defying Poverty with Bicycles. I will be on a panel with three other organization leaders from Brazil and Mexico to discuss ways that bicycles can bring about social change in communities.

As part of my presentation, I will offer overviews of noteworthy social bike businesses on five continents. So, I thought I might just share these model programs with you:

Neighborhood Bike Works - USA:
  • For urban youth in underserved neighborhoods of Philadelphia
  • Two locations open regular hours
  • Adult bike repair classes taught by the youth
  • Earn-a-Bike program
  • Summer camps and rides

Utica Bike Rescue - USA:
  • For refugees and at-risk youth in Utica, New York
  • Bikes for disadvantaged people through partner groups
  • “A hand up, not a handout”
  • Open weekdays
  • Bicycle mechanic classes
  • Earn-a-Bike program
  • Summer bike camps

Bike Works - UK:
  • For people with disadvantaged backgrounds in London
  • Registered as a social enterprise
  • All profits toward mission
  • Jobs for disadvantaged
  • Bicycles for disabled
  • Mechanic courses
  • Mobile bike repair

Recicleta - Chile:
  • Seeks out abandoned bikes in Santiago
  • Offers mechanic training to fix the bikes
  • Matches bikes with people in need
  • Workshop space
  • Community programs

Rickshaw Bank - India:
  • Social business for rickshaw drivers in Assam India
  • Improved rickshaw design, built by disadvantaged
  • Loans to drivers to buy their own rickshaw as they use it
  • Careers in business
  • Insurance and health care
  • Family support
  • Replicating in other cities
Google and YouTube

Bicycling Empowerment Network Namibia:
  • Ready-made bike shops delivered as shipping containers with 350 bikes, tools, and shop equipment; container to shop
  • Business and mechanic training for local bike shop owners
  • 33 bike shops in Namibia
  • Bicycle ambulances and bikes for healthcare workers
  • Expanding the program to other African countries

Do you know of other model social bike businesses that serve disadvantaged people, pay employees, and are open regular hours? Please note them in the comments section.

I hope to see some of you in Nantes!


Sunday, May 17, 2015

Bicycle Manufacturing Video from 1950s

As the manufacturing of bicycles continues to shift away from the countries where they will be ridden, I still find solace in this old video of manufacturing bikes here in America, for Americans.

From the commentary, I can guess it was made in about 1952 as the pride for American manufacturing was peaking. You'll need to look close through the poor quality film to see the machines and workers creating every part from frame, to fork, to chainring, to wheels. 

Not long after this video was made, pride in local manufacturing began to erode with the lust for higher profits offered through overseas manufacturing. Bicycle companies all over the world were lured into this rush and many of those who didn't follow, such as the company featured in this video, perished.

One Street's Social Bike Business program is pushing back against this trend by offering nonprofit bike programs a means for manufacturing their own bicycles. It seems like pebbles thrown into a torrent, but if we gather enough pebbles, the flow could shift back to bicycle factories like the one featured in this film. Such a shift would bring back not only jobs to those countries that make the shift, but the pride in manufacturing our own bicycles for our neighbors.

Do you know of other bicycle manufacturing videos from this time period that show this sort of local pride? Please post the link in the comments section.