One of the most Earth friendly ways to get around is via bike, and they’ve certainly come a long way since the banana-seat Huffy I pedaled in third grade. Nowadays nonprofits around the world are using bikes to change the world, from keeping girls in school to distributing food to the hungry. They offer reliable, affordable transportation that makes a real difference — and with minimal impact on the Earth.
In honor of Earth Day, here are six organizations changing lives with bikes.
In Cambodia, just 11% of girls attend secondary school. Lotus Pedals provides girls with bikes, so that they can get to and from school safely. For a donation of $80 per bike and repair kit, Lotus Pedals makes sure girls have reliable transportation. About 1000 bicycles have been distributed thus far.
UNICEF also knows that dependable transportation is a key component for education. In Ghana, UNICEF has provided almost 6000 bikes to girls like Rahinatu, who had an over 3 mile walk to school each day. The bike helped her get to school quickly, and on time.
Boulder Food Rescue (BFR) volunteers use bikes to pick up donations of fresh produce and other perishable foods from grocery stores and restaurants, then ride them across town to deliver food to over 25 different organizations, such as homeless shelters, who then feed the hungry. The organization has a handy dandy web-based scheduling, routing, and tracking tool – used by BFR and other organizations – that helps the group efficiently pick up food and get it where it needs to go.
Since June 2012, over 447,000 thousand pounds of food has been collected and brought to people who need it, resulting in fewer hungry people and less food waste. Four other food rescues have been started based on BFR’s model.
In 2006, bike manufacturer Kona launched the AfricaBike program. AfricaBikes are extremely durable, easy-to-repair bikes designed for transportation in the developing world. Over 4000 bikes have been distributed with partner nonprofits throughout Africa, so that adults can get to work, kids can go to school, and families can more easily access water, healthcare, and other needs. And, because of the thoughtful design Kona’s created, these bikes stay on the road, and in use, for long periods of time.
In the US, organizations are also providing bikes to help others get where they need to go. Park Hill Bike Depot in Denver operates programs so kids and adults can earn bikes by first taking a course in bike repair and safety, and then offering at least three hours of community service, plus three additional hours spent building their own bike with donated bikes and parts. Recipients then use their bikes to get – and stay – healthy and for transportation. Since 2010, they’ve distributed 955 bikes to kids.
Bikes 4 Life provides youth with job training, internships, and summer jobs, as well as low-cost bike repair and community building. The West Oakland-based organization promotes health through spinning classes and outdoor cycling. Many youth have had the chance to gain new skills and summertime employment at Bikes 4 Life.