Bamboo bikes from Brooklyn to Ghana
A bike shop in Brooklyn is pioneering ways to create bikes from bamboo in ways that benefit both Ghana and the environment.
This story was originally covered by PRI's Living on Earth. For more, listen to the audio above.
Bamboo is a great material to make a bike out of. It's light, durable, and, Sean Murray of the Bamboo Bike Studio in Brooklyn tells PRI's Living on Earth, bamboo is as strong as steel. And it can absorb vibrations better than the standard, steel bikes. He says:
It's because the bamboo itself is a composite material and it's got these really strong fibers that are as rigid as steel. Those fibers are set in a matrix of very soft and supple bone, so you can ride over cobblestones like these and not really feel it.
And since bamboo is an invasive species in New York that grows quickly, there is no shortage of the plant. The Bamboo Bike Studio uses materials collected in the tri-state area, and the members constantly field calls from homeowners offering up backyard bamboo. They then treat it, without using chemicals, in a way they assure buyers is sustainable.
The bikes they create represent more than just a good way for New Yorkers to get around. The Bamboo Bike Studio also works with Columbia University's Earth Institute to bring their technology to Ghana. Justin Aguinaldo, also with the studio, told Living on Earth:
We're trying to work with the tools they would have to work with and figure out a way to do it so that it's scalable, so that it's doable, you know is it possible for a human being with their own two hands and a few tools to actually do this.
For Ghanaians, the bikes could represent a cheap, easy mode of transportation, in a country where bamboo is plentiful. They could provide more access to jobs, food and hold up well on many of the country's many unpaved roads.
The bikes are also cheaper than many currently available. A steel bike from China typically costs about $100, and the Brooklyn Bike Studio hopes to sell theirs for half of that. But the idea is to go beyond simply selling or giving bikes to Ghana. They also hope to help the country build a bike-making economy of their own.
Hosted by Steve Curwood, "Living on Earth" is an award-winning environmental news program that delves into the leading issues affecting the world we inhabit. More "Living on Earth."