Bicycles drive progress in developing countries

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When the Christian Science Monitor newspaper highlighted eight innovative philanthropists this past weekend, it  first profiled World Bicycle Relief and its founder F.K. Day.


The executive vice president of bike component maker SRAM is cited as a prime example of the new style of humanitarian who does more than just open his wallet for a good cause.

Created in 2005 to provide thousands of bicycles to tsunami victims in south Asia, World Bicycle Relief continues to make a difference as it supplies some 120,000 bicycles across 11 African nations.

The tough Buffalo bicycles are used as “economic engines” to help individuals and communities boost their productivity. They’re also used by medical personnel to provide health care to far flung villages and schoolchildren — primarily girls — to reach schools that can be located miles away from home.

Day told the newspaper:

“There is not a greater gift that one can give a community than an economic engine. An industrial revolution on a personal level can push someone’s productivity forward and help them to help their families and communities.”

I’ve always been impressed by the bicycle power chart displayed on the World Bicycle Relief’s website. It shows that, compared to a walker, a bicyclist can carry 5 times the load and cover 4 times more distance. For every 10 miles, a bicyclist saves 3 hours of travel time.

World Bicycle Relief is mounting an end-of-year fund-raising drive. A $50 donation buys tools for a mechanic, and a $134 donation covers the cost of a bicycle.

World Bicycle Relief branded clothing and bike gear is for sale at an online store.

Some major charity events raise money for World Bicycle Relief every year.

In Seattle, World Bicycle Relief joined with the Cascade Bicycle Club for the Red-Bell 100 charity bike ride last summer. Returning in 2013 on June 29, the Red-Bell 100 is a two day ride from Redmond to Bellingham limited to 650 cyclists. In its inaugural year, it cost a $250, which included a minimum $150 donation.

In Chicago, Chicago Cubs board member Todd Ricketts leads a 100-mile charity bike ride called The Wrigley Field Road Tour.

Currently, the SRAM pART Project NYC is preparing for its Nov. 29 gala. More than 80 artists are making creations from SRAM bicycle parts that will be sold at auction.

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