One Street News
Vol. 5, Issue 10
2012: the Year of Social Bike Business
By: Sue Knaup, Executive Director
For this Happy New Year, special edition of One Street’s e-newsletter I had planned to write brief, separate snippets about our most exciting successes this past year. I will still do this as you’ll see below, but also note their common theme that jumped out at me – Social Bike Business. This flagship program, launched in One Street’s very first year of 2007, has resonated through every connection and partnership we’ve made over these five years. Perhaps it’s because the idea is so simple – creating long-lasting places that provide durable, affordable transportation bicycles and career training for the people who need them the most.
Enjoy our highlights from 2012:
- ONE STREET HEADING TO UGANDA
- SOCIAL BIKE HOW-TO MANUAL PUBLISHED
- ONE STREET COMPONENTS LAUNCHED
- AFRICA TO VELO-CITY
This Social Bike Business odyssey began in December 2009 when the executive director of Ride 4 a Woman (R4W), Denis Rubalema, emailed me for advice as they scrambled through their exciting first year of empowering women with bicycles in southwest Uganda. Three years later, I am typing this newsletter amidst piles of tools, bike parts, training booklets, and bicycle mechanic certification materials as I prepare for my second trip to Uganda for the rest of January. This time, I will work with Denis and his leadership team to train eight women from the Bwindi area in advanced bicycle mechanic techniques. Then these eight newly trained mechanics will lead workshops, open to all 300 R4W members, on learning how to ride and fix bikes. Read more about the trip here: One Street to Uganda.
2012 brought us the big push of donor support we needed to make this trip possible. Even halfway through the year, I wasn’t sure if we would make it. But so many of you stepped up with donations, we actually exceeded our minimum fundraising goal. Because of this, at this very moment, a mason and his helpers are constructing a brick extension to the R4W Centre for their new bicycle repair workshop. Previous donations of tools, a professional work stand and truing stands will be installed by the time I arrive next week. These piles of additional tools and parts at my elbows were also only possible because of your donations. And every one of the eight graduates of the training program will receive her own, brand new bicycle!! Thanks to all of you who helped make this happen!
I am absolutely thrilled that we’ve published our first book under our new publishing arm, One Street Press, which we launched in 2012. This first gem is our manual for the Social Bicycle Business program, Defying Poverty with Bicycles, published on December 21, 2012. Our first shipment of books will arrive here a few days before I step onto the plane toward Uganda. So order fulfillment from this office will have to wait until I return in early February.
But wait! You can purchase your copy of Defying Poverty with Bicycles right now through Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and other online booksellers. Get your copy and then drop me a line with your ideas about starting a Social Bike Business program for your area.
We launched One Street Components in 2012 to create a means of producing bicycle components that serve the needs of impoverished people and are no longer made. The necessity for this became clear as we worked with our Social Bike Business partners around the world.
Regular readers have followed along with us on this adventure through product development. One Street’s bicycle shift lever is our first component because durable, affordable shift levers are disappearing. Most that can be found now are complex shifters with countless fragile parts integrated with brake levers at $100 or more per pair, designed for obsolescence. Basic top-bar shifters can be found after an arduous search, but they are made with cheap metal and plastic, not designed for heavy use.
While I’m excited to spend the rest of January in Uganda working with the R4W folks, I have to admit it is difficult to leave behind this shift lever in mid-prototype stage. I tested our first prototype on a bike a few months ago, then refined the design down to only six common parts. The bottle cap remains as the friction cap! I look forward to jumping back into this fun process upon my return.
Finally, I want to highlight a budding new program we launched in the second half of 2012. Africa to Velo-city evolved from our previous program, City to Velo-city, which was designed to help bicycle advocates from Prescott, Arizona attend the annual international Velo-city bicycle conference. As Prescott is our home base, helping these advocates attend the conference offered One Street a productive means of helping our hometown.
But even by our second year of the City to Velo-city program, we had recognized a much greater need for such an effort. Native-born African delegates are a rarity at the conference. As I finish my final preparations for my second trip to Africa, I can personally attest to the difficulty that Africans experience simply moving within their own countries. Raising the funds to travel outside of their country presents an insurmountable obstacle to most leaders of African bicycle NGOs.
At One Street, we see this absence of Africans as a serious loss for the conference because all of the bicycle programs we have connected with in Africa include brand new, courageous bicycle initiatives never thought of, let alone tried in other parts of the world. On the flip side, African delegates will gain tremendously by attending the conference to learn from their peers in other parts of the world. Some efforts have been made in the past to help African delegates attend, but never amounting to more than five.
One Street is a proud supporter of the Velo-city conference because it is the premier bicycle conference, far exceeding the results and standards of any other bicycle conference we have attended. Through our Africa to Velo-city program we hope to benefit the conference by ensuring that a significant number of native-born African delegates, all leaders of bicycle NGOs, become a normal part of the conference. These delegates are the only people who can share, first-hand, the inspiring and resilient bicycle programs that are blossoming across Africa today.
Time is moving fast as Velo-city 2013 approaches in June. So far, our fundraising efforts have not gained traction, but I am hopeful that we will find some eager donors in time for at least a few of our African colleagues to attend. Please let me know if you have any ideas for raising these funds. If we are successful with this try, even for a few, it will set the stage to ensure that many more African delegates can attend future Velo-city conferences.
I hope to see you in June in Vienna at the Velo-city conference and introduce you to at least a few of my African colleagues. Until then, have a very Happy New Year! I am hopeful that lucky 2013 will bring many new opportunities to all of our bicycle programs. Thanks to all of you for your continued efforts to increase bicycling in your own part of the world.