A Bamboo Bicycle Craze

I keep coming across stories about bamboo bicycles. When I first heard about them in January 2012), I didn’t really understand how bicycles made out of bamboo could make much sense. I thought it was quirky and innovative and one-of-a-kind… and the one-of-a-kind statement is the key phrase here. I didn’t realize there was already a niche for bamboo bicycles!

Bill Clinton presenting a signed basketball to GW students Chris Deschenez, John Torrey, and Matthew Wilkins for winning the CGIU Commitment Challenge. Photo by Marie McGrory of the GW Hatchet

Bill Clinton presenting a signed basketball to GW students Chris Deschenez, John Torrey, and Matthew Wilkins for their bamboo bicycle endeavor. Photo by Marie McGrory of The GW Hatchet

But Bill Clinton, Jon Stewart, Usher, and the rest of the Clinton Global Initiative group recognized that niche. Last spring, CGIU (U for University) came to George Washington University (my school!) to challenge college students to address global issues with practical, innovative solutions, and thousands of students came from all over the US with project ideas. The conference included a Commitment Challenge in which almost 200,000 people voted. The winners drumroll please!)… Panda Cycles, now called Ghana Bamboo BikesHere are excerpts from their website:

“The Ghana Bamboo Bikes is a socio ecological green initiative that addresses the quadruple problems of climate change, poverty, rural-urban migration and high unemployment amongst the youth in rural Ghana by creating employment opportunities and sustainable livelihood job skills for the youth through the building of high quality handcrafted second generation bamboo bikes for the international export markets.

We are committed to promoting fair trade, treating people fairly, profit sharing with builders, creating environmentally responsible products that contribute in reducing climate change commitment to protect the environment and promoting environmental awareness.”

Ok, so that’s where it started. And that’s all I thought there was, but now things are cropping up all over the place! But I’m going to leave that as a cliff-hanger for now… More to come, including (1) building a bamboo bicycle and (2) riding from Alaska to Patagonia on a bamboo bicycle.
I’m pretty darn excited about it!

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