Bicycles are back. Ok they never went away, but riding a bike has never been so cool, with bike models designed to meet a growing range of needs and tastes increasingly on the market. Any respectable city will boast cool cycle-shops, and hip bike-riders to match. Some bikes, however, just go the extra mile like those from Vélosophy that help support girls education.
Health and environmental concerns, traffic congestion and the cost of commuting have all been contributing to the boom of the good old pedal-power in some cities. Take London for example, where the number of drivers during rush hour more than halved between 2000 and 2014 while the number of cyclists quadrupled. This trend towards cycling is very much a work in progress, though some fruits are starting to bear in terms of greener and cleaner urban landscapes in which driving is increasingly discouraged and bike riding made safer for all.
In the developing world, the need and the potential for bicycles and bicycle infrastructure is big. In these regions, bikes can provide not just an affordable mobility option or a source of income and employment, they can also be a tool to empower women. Bikes can, in fact, transform the lives of young girls, increase their school attendance – when they would otherwise have to walk for miles – and help to improve their educational achievements.
Vélosophy is a Swedish bicycle brand that is inspired by these facts: their beautiful bikes are a lot more than sleek design, light materials and colourful accessories. Through a ‘One for One‘ model, for every bike they sell, Vélosophy donates one bike to a school girl in Ghana. This is done in cooperation with a three-year UNICEF project and with local partner Ghana Bamboo Bikes (GBB), which manufactures the bikes for donation, therefore supporting local labour and skills development and employment.
Indeed, by manufacturing bikes using native bamboo (for every bamboo tree used, ten are planted by GBB) and customising them to suit the local terrain and rough roads, this local initiative is helping to promote sustainability, education, tackle poverty, rural-urban migration and high youth unemployment in rural Ghana.
According to Vélosophy, access to a bike is found to increase girls school attendance by 30 per cent and improve school results by 60 per cent, with long term earning-potential improvements. And according to Plan UK, for every extra year of education, a girls’ income goes up by ten to 20 per cent, leading to more prosperous and healthy families and communities.
Thanks to their partnership with UNICEF and GBB, Vélosophy plans to produce 3000 bikes to donate to school girls in Ghana over the next three years, helping to improve their chances for a brighter future. So if you are looking for something beyond a sleek and light aluminium frame, alloy fenders and bright accessories, this bike brand may be for you.
See the work that they support by watching this video: