When you think of bamboo, you probably think of the tall stiff green stalks that serve as the staple meal for pandas or maybe light weight tropical furniture right? Well, how about bicycles?
Frame Designer Craig Calfee thought that bamboo and bikes might have a future together and made his first bamboo bike in 1995. Through his business, Bambooseroo, Calfee and his team make bikes and train people in developing countries to make them as well to sell overseas. The Yonso Project(TYP), a Ghanaian-based organization working to improve educational and economic activities in rural Ghana to alleviate poverty, has partnered with Bambooseroo to introduce bamboo bikes project into its programs. They’ve done this in an effort to merge employment opportunities and environmental conservation.
The bamboo bikes project was started in 2009 for the TYP. It was initiated by the TYP’s Director of Ecotourism, Sam Dupre as one of the ways the organization could re-engage local hunters into the economy to stop them from poaching. Dupre presented the idea to the board, which liked it and soon made an agreement with Babmoosero. Calfee then went to Yonso, a village located in the Ashanti region of Ghana, to train eager young men to replace steel with bamboo in making bikes.
Bamboo seems a surprising substitute for steel- a metal considered to be one of the strongest out there used for everything from train tracks to reinforcements for skyscrapers. But bamboo can hold an amazingly heavy load of its own. Calfee’s bamboo cargo bamboo bike carried an unbelievable load of 600 pounds. Bamboo is also flexible, allowing it to absorb shock, and is an abundant renewable resource making it a sustainable material for Bambooseroo builders.
The Bamboo Bikes Project is an innovative partnership that tackles many issues in Yonso and surrounding communities with one initiative. “This project will serve as a means of transport for the rural farmers to carry their loads to the market centers. It is also expected to reduce unemployment in rural communities by engaging the youth, and to re-engage the rural hunters so that poaching is minimized to conserve wildlife in the area” Country Director Kwabena Danso explains. When asked if environmental awareness has always been a part of the Yonso Project or if it was a recent addition, he responded: “We have had environmental awareness as one of our objectives but we have not gone into full scale operation in that area.” TYPs Bamboo Bikes project shows that it is never too late to start conserving the environment. It also highlights the fact that for every environmental problem, there is a creative solution.