From Reeds to Roads: Bamboo Bikes in Ghana

When Columbia University professor John Mutter went to Ghana in 2007, he noticed how necessary a reliable source of transportation was to people’s livelihoods and wellbeing.

“You can’t go to any of the poorer countries in Africa and not be struck by how many people get around by walking or bicycling,” said Mutter.

With roads in generally poor condition, it can take a long time to get from place to place, he said. Even the seemingly simple task of getting cash crops to market can be formidable.With roads in generally poor condition, it can take a long time to get from place to place, he said. Even the seemingly simple task of getting cash crops to market can be formidable.

“It’s pointless to grow vegetables for a market if you can’t get to the market” or keep track of market prices, he said. “Transportation can really be an inhibitor.”

So it made sense that many people got around by bike, but many of those bikes were meant for paved roads, and were very heavy and poorly made.

Bamboo was the natural solution, specifically a bike frame made of the sturdy shoots. Mutter was in Ghana as part of The Earth Institute at Columbia University’s Bamboo Bike Project.

Read more at pbs.org

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