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ProposalStakeholder AnalysisProject GoalsProject EffectsCity of InterestResearchBamboo BikeGroup Bio

We propose integrating bamboo bicycles into the economy of a developing nation that is in need of better transportation to facilitate their livelihood. Our research has concentrated on introducing bamboo bikes and bamboo bike manufacturing to Kumasi, Ghana.

We do not view bikes as a suitable replacement for cars, buses, etc. in a country where this infrastructure has already been developed. In developed countries, bicycles can supplement existing transportation, but we are more interested in using the bicycle along with sustainable design to reformulate how people move and how cities are designed in developing nations. From our research, it appears that many people are uninterested in using bicycles when taxis, buses, or cars are readily available. Our focus is a nation where public transportation is not readily or easily available, and private modes of transportation consist primarily of walking or biking.

Our goal is to make the bamboo bicycle accesible to locals in Ghana. Currently, bikes are imported into Ghana from factories in Asia. These bicycles are expensive and tend to break easily as they are not meant to ride on the unpaved roads: this makes them not only a costly commodity but an unsustainable one.

Ultimately, we would like to help regions and cities, such as Kumasi, that need bicycles by teaching local groups how to build bicycles out of bamboo. By building their own vehicles, they can not only build it to their specifications (i.e for the terrain), but they will also form an attachment to the product. This personal investment inspires users to utilize their bikes to their fullest potential. By teaching them how to build bicycles from a sustainable material (bamboo), we can remove the need to import bicycles from long distances as well as promoting “green” engineering. Once we are able to teach a region how to build bicycles, they can produce their own bicycles and sell them in their community.

We hope that this will grow their work force and economy, and it will enable many to have cheap access to transportation, which can in turn allow the citizens to go to school, hospitals, markets, or easily transport goods. This technology has the ability to inspire the community to not only start building these bicycles, but also start using them; the people who buy the bicycles will find a way to use them to their fullest potential. Bamboo bikes can free them from their present limited regional transportation and allow them to fully explore their potential.

We plan to partner with Bamboo Bikes Limited, an existing bamboo bike manufacturing effort, and supplement their continuing research and development of the model bamboo bicycle factory that has just begun production in Kumasi, Ghana. In support of this plan, we could use funding to travel to Ghana where we would undertake the following three efforts.

1. Conduct Interviews with Local Groups and Peoples

  • We want to engage in dialogue, as per step 2 of Paul Polak’s 12 Steps to Practical Problem Solving, with the locals in order to further expand our knowledge on how this system may be further implemented. These interviews may be conducted by us, or possibly we would train locals to conduct the interviews in an effort to gather more reliable and accurate information.

2. Implement Methods of Financing and Selling Bamboo Bikes

  • We wish to help marked BBL and their bikes as the sustainability of BBL is directly related to the public’s perception of the bikes and the number of bikes that are sold. We wish to draw upon the lessons learned from the successful implementation of treadle pumps that used singing minstrels and a Bollywood style movie to convince locals that their products had major benefits and was worth its price. (LINK) We also would investigate how micro-financing may allow for greater sales of bamboo bikes.

3. Support and Investigate Further Uses of Bamboo Construction Methods

  • We feel that BBL could find greater success by expanding on its Bamboo Construction Methods. Not only can traditional bike frames be created out of bamboo, but so may boda-boda bike taxis, women’s specific bikes, bike trailers, and bike ambulances. For more information on these alternative uses of bamboo please visit our research section.