Village Bicycle Project

Village Bicycle Project - Bicycles Create Change.com

Village Bicycle Project

Village Bicycle Project (VBP) is a completely volunteer-run organization that collects and sends second-hand bicycles to community partners only in Ghana and Sierra Leone.

VBP has been in operation since 1999 and has its base headquarters in Seattle, USA.

It was originally founded to provide transport options of Ghana’s rural residents and farmers and has since expanded on this aim.

VBP facilitates the on-the-ground distribution and sales of bicycles that are either sourced through direct donation or via collection drives undertaken by local partner organisations based in the USA, Canada and Europe, such as Bike Works (Seattle), Recycle-a-Bicycle (New York City) and Bikes not Bombs (Chicago).

Their motto is Affordable and sustainable transportation to Africa and Changing lives in Africa.

Village Bicycle Project - Bicycles Create Change.com

The core philosophy framing all VBP policy and practice is not to give bicycles for free.

A clear statement on the VBP website explains the justification for this ideology as being threefold. They believe that supplying free bikes will flood the local market which undermines local bike enterprises and associated livelihoods, that free bikes do not remain in possession of those who need it most and that it devalues the bicycle as well as precipitates a reliance on aid.

Once the bikes are sourced, they undergo rigorous condition checks to ensure that only second-hand bikes of excellent quality are included, while the rest are stripped for parts.

When collection reaches distribution point, a 40” shipping container is filled with 450 bicycles and is shipped over to distribution partners in Africa.

Village Bicycle Project - Bicycles Create Change.com

Each shipment is divided into three streams on arrival, 150 bikes are reserved for VBP one-day maintenance workshops, a quota is reserved for other partnership initiatives (such as supplying bicycles for rural teachers). The rest of the bicycles and extra parts are sold to local bike retailers to pay the $5000 cost of shipping the container to Africa.

VBP ships about 20 containers to Africa each year.

Village Bicycle Project - Bicycles Create Change.com

As well as supplying bicycles, tools and spare parts, VBP provides access to mechanics for assistance and runs a number of programs. Programs include bicycles with maintenance workshops, learn to ride, bicycle mechanic training and bicycle collection and distribution.

The one-day maintenance workshop is free for anyone who has purchased one of their bikes. This course shows new owners how change flat tires, check gears and brakes and provides advice to increase biking confidence and safe riding practices.

 

Village Bicycle Project - Bicycles Create Change.com

Girls-only riding and bicycle programs

VBP specifically targets women and girls for inclusion to help begin to address the gender inequalities that limit accesses to bicycles (VBP, 2015).

The VBP website states that as of 2017, they achieved: 106,000 bikes supplied to Ghana and Sierra Leone, 3500 girls and women have learnt to ride a bike through one of their programs; 18,000 people have been trained in bike repairs; and 60,00 tools have been distributed to support the increase of bicycles in communities (VBP, 2016).

Village Bicycle Project - Bicycles Create Change.com

In 2014 with the help of Clara Matthews, VBP launched their girls’ only after-school month long ‘learn to ride’ classes in Lunsa, Sierra Leone. These classes were held in community parks to capitalise on being open air, friendly and socially inclusive programs within the community and were used to try to improve community acceptance of more girls riding bicycles.

VBP features in Laurens Hof’s (2016) Master’s Thesis entitled Teaching girls how to ride a bicycle: gender and cycling in Lunsar, Sierra Leone, and as a case study in Jack Furness One less car: Bicycling and the politics of automobility, but has so far not been included in any empirical academic publications beyond being mentioned in passing.

Village Bicycle Project - Bicycles Create Change.com

All images from Village Bicycle Project.

Helmet Law Survey Results

The results of the Bicycle Network Helmet Law Survey are in! Big ups to all those who responded to the survey online and via my blog post on September 19th.  A summary of the key findings are at the end of this post. Very interesting!


Helmet Law Survey Results - Bicycles Create Change.com

A survey of almost 20,000 people has found that nearly two-thirds don’t believe you should have to wear a helmet every time you ride a bike in Australia.

It also found that if current mandatory helmet laws change to allow Australians to ride a bike without wearing a helmet, more than 30% of people would ride a bike more often.

The survey was conducted in August and September this year as part of Bicycle Network’s mandatory helmet law policy review.

Currently under the law, it is compulsory to wear a helmet whenever riding a bike in Australia, excluding the Northern Territory.

Bicycle Network CEO, Craig Richards, said the responses received from its members and the public will help the organisation evaluate its position on helmets, forming one part of a wider review which also includes a literature review and evaluation of expert opinion.

“It’s great to get such a large amount of public opinion about bike helmets. It’s something people are clearly passionate about and it’s helpful to see how Australia’s helmet laws may impact people’s decision to ride,” said Mr Richards.

“The opinion of our members and people who ride bikes is important and will help inform our policy on Australia’s mandatory helmet law. Along with academic research and information from experts, we will be able to make a fully informed decision.”

When it comes to relaxing laws, it’s not one-size-fits-all

While most people said they don’t support mandatory helmet laws, there was a divide in whether laws should be fully relaxed, or adapted in specific situations.

41% think helmets should still be mandatory in some circumstances, such as riding in ‘high risk’ situations, like racing, riding on roads or under 18 years of age.

“Understandably, there are people that feel safer wearing a helmet. But there are situations where some people have told us they would feel safe without a helmet, like riding on a trail next to the beach,” added Mr Richards.

“If we were to change our policy on Australia’s mandatory helmet laws, it may not be as simple as saying you’ll never have to wear one again.”

Bicycle Network is Australia’s largest bike riding organisation representing 50,000 members.

It’s mandatory helmet law policy review began in August this year and is expected to be completed by April 2018.

 

Helmet Law Survey Results - Bicycles Create Change.comSummary of Bicycle Network’s mandatory helmet law survey

  • The survey was completed by 19,327 respondents
  • Respondents were mostly Bicycle Network members and people who ride bikes with varying regularity. 2.6% of respondents were from overseas, and 1.9% of respondents said they never ride a bike.
  • 58.3% of respondents said there should be a change to helmet laws, while the remaining 41.7% said helmets should be mandatory all the time
  • 40.7% believe helmets should only be mandatory when the risk is high, for example, when racing, on road or for young people
  • 30.4% would ride more if helmets weren’t mandatory
  • If laws changed, almost all people who currently wear a helmet when they ride would continue to do so and the number of people who never wear a helmet when riding would only increase by 3.7%

This post was first published by Bicycle Network on 21st Nov, 2017.

ReImagining Education for Democracy Summit

Life ever stops. Mixing bikes, research and work is my challenge AND my pleasure – as regular readers well know! As a change from our usual bike posts, this post is a little indulgent academic wankery. It has been a very busy week with my new 10-week course starting, a 4-day family trip and a 3-day conference to attend – among other things. Now that peak crazy period has passed, here’s an update of the RE4D Summit (conference) that has been the focus for this week. Cheers! NG.


Earlier this week I attended and presented at the ReImagining Education for Democracy (RE4D) Summit.

It was the first time I have attended this conference and I was very impressed.

To get details of each session – here is the Conference Program.

Essentially this conference uses Critical Pedagogy perspectives to unpack and explore aspects of contemporary education research, policy and practice that are complex and challenging.

The Summit has a strong political undercurrent with sessions wrestling with issues such as globalisation, the role of the state and markets, technocratic models of education and how equity, access, fairness and social justice are being addressed in schools and within wider educational dynamics and systems.

So what was the ReImagining Education for Democracy Summit?

This event was an awesome 3-day conference that covered an wide range of education policy, process and practice. There were 5 keynote speakers, a free public lecture, and event called Pedagogy in the Pub, and over 80 presentations in the form of symposiums, focus panels, individual research papers and workshops.

I was impressed with the range and scope of the presentations. You can always tell a good conference when you are conflicted about what session to go to for fear of missing out on the session you miss.

Here’s the abstract for our symposium:

Nina Ginsberg. ReImagining Education for Democracy Summit - Bicycles Create Change

My Presentation

My presentation was part of a symposium of 3 other presenters.

As a group we had developed the symposium abstract and each of us contributed a differing perspective to our main contention.

We decided to go for the practical, for the personal and for the challenging.

Unfornatuntely, on the day one of our speakers (Ian) could not make it, so we were missing the male perspective, but it also meant that we had more time.

Our presentation was awesome.

We had a great topic and some really interesting and unique expreinces and difficulties to share.

Naomi started us off by presenting her experience of being a mother whilst doing her PhD to tease out some key political and neoliberalist tensions. Sherilyn followed up with a little more methodological view to processing some key transformative ‘moments’ she had during her work disrupting educational and social structures within in her own local community.

Then I ended by outlining some of the practical ‘shadows, cracks and hauntings’ that I have experienced in my work and telling 6 stories that hit at the heart of practicing gender justice.

This format worked really well and the session was a pleasure to be part of. The build-up and layering of ideas from one presentation to the next was strategic and served well to show the individual, dynamic and complex nature of the work we do as well.

I told a few stories that I have not told before and had put a lot of thought into what I wanted to say and what content (or stories) to include.

ReImagining Education for Democracy Summit - Bicycles Create Change

Here’s my abstract for my session for the symposium:

Nina Ginsberg. ReImagining Education for Democracy Summit - Bicycles Create Change

Did I mention that Prof. Michael Apple, his wife Rima and Prof. Pat Thomson from the academic blog Patter (among others) attended my presentation? Talk about a big gun audience!

Following the symposium, I had a number of audience members come up and say how much they enjoyed it – which was very affirming!

I was touched when one woman said that she was very moved by the stories and that my presentations really made her think. She said it was so important to share stories of when things go wrong and to acknowledge that there are dark sides to research, researchers and researching – and I agree!

As a final boost, I was stoked when a friend sent me through this Twitter post that was uploaded from an audience member I’d never met before.

ReImagining Education for Democracy Summit - Bicycles Create Change

One final thought about the Summit…. Prof. Michael Apple

Prof. Michael Apple

ReImaging Education for Democracy Summit - Bicycles Create Change

Listening to, and meeting Prof Apple was a real highlight for me.

It was so refreshing to hear his keynote speech on the second day, least of all because it was jammed pack full of provocative ideas. His topic was Can education change society and I was struck by his eloquence and skill as a public speaker. It was truly a pleasure to listen to his educated arguments. He is a consummate orator and gifted storyteller -and a delight to listen to.

To often keynotes are generic, pussy-footing-dont-want-to-upset-too-many-people-or-prensent-anything-too-controversial. But, Prof Apple went there, giving his ideas on some pretty tricky issues – which was great as it meant you knew exactly what he thought and could agree or disagree with it. So suddenly – hey, presto you have a conversation! Awesome! Thats what a conference is all about after all!

Before the conference, I wasn’t fully aware of who he was and I didn’t fully appreciate the immense impact and influence he has within the field of Education and Critical Pedagogy.

Turns out he is one of the fifty most important educational scholars of the 20th Century and one of the ‘first fathers’ that established this field of inquiry and was a contemporary of Paulo Feire and Basil Bernstein – a big deal in my circles.

And, after following up on some of the things he mentioned and finding out more about his about his amazing political commitment to progressing educational and social/cultural activism, I am now a big fan.

Prof. Michael Apple has written widely on educational and social activism with the most recent being his article Critical educational reforms and dirty toilets: being honest about blockages and contradictions for AARE – a very interesting read indeed (especially given some of the ensuing comments).

I’m already looking forward to next year’s conference! See you there!


To give you an idea of the topics covered, below is the 2017 schedule:

ReImaging Education for Democracy Summit - Bicycles Create ChangeReImaging Education for Democracy Summit - Bicycles Create Change

ReImaging Education for Democracy Summit - Bicycles Create Change

More info please!

The website Rage and Hope gives a great overview of the key thinkers of Critical Pedagogy.

For more details on the main thrust, debates and foci of the Critical Pedagogy movement, Aliakbari and Faraji (2011) Basic Principles of Critical Pedagogy is a clear and easy read to get the basic principles and concepts of what Critical Pedagogy is all about and how it is related to education, politics and society.

Urban Cycling World Champs

2017 UCI Urban Cycling World Champs - Bicycles Create Change.com

Urban Cycling World Champs

The Urban Cycling World Championship is a relatively new format that blends a selection of biking and cycling events into one ‘festival of urban biking’ showcase.  The  UCWC is in held in major cities around the world so more people can get to see, and experience, the new and unique skills and thrills of urban biking.

The 2017 Urban Cycling World Championship was held this week in Chengdu, China.

This year the event included Mountain Bike Eliminator (XCE), Trials and BMX Free Style Park – each of which is sure to inspire even the most unimpressed general public be more interested in bikes!!

What are ‘Trials’?

Trials is the event where you see bikers hopping and jumping across, between and over boulders, planks and other obstacles.  Bikes are 20″ and 26″ and riders need mad balancing, agility, strength, timing and track standing skills to be competitive. Essentially it is a time-based routine where riders are allowed a maximum of five dabs allowed in any section.

Why is Trials so interesting this year?

Trial events have been a UCI World Champs event since 2001. However 2017 is the first year that Trials is being run as part of the Urban Cycling World Champs, whereas previously Trials has been run in conjunction with other mountain-biking disciplines as part of the UCI Mountain Bike & Trials World Championships.

Most importantly because J-Mean (Janine Jungfels), who is a local Brisbane rider and Australia’s Women’s Elite Trials entrant – is hoping to kick ass!

Go Janine, Go!

Janine was the 2015 UCI BIU World Champion and she is a great ambassador for the sport. If you don’t know much about J-Mean, check out her Facebook page.

No matter what the final results are for this event, I think Janine is already a champ, given her dedication to training and promoting the sport.

She is a great role model to encourage more women and girls to see and experience a wider range of biking styles outside of the ‘mainstream’ road riding and MTBing.

I was super pumped after I saw this interview (see below) with her earlier this month at the Trials Park at Underwood Park, Brisbane.

I wanted to post on Janine and Trials to acknowledge and promote the hard work and dedication of many unknown riders in less popular cycling disciplines.

There are a handful of cycling styles that when someone saying ‘cycling’ immediately spring to mind (like the Tour de France). As I have argued elsewhere, the hyperfocus on such events is parochial and highlights the inaccurate, limited and inadequate representation within society of what cycling is – and this kind of view that negates an appreciate and support for the diversity and range of other types of riders, styles, skills and bikes that make up our amazing cycling communities.

So regardless of who actually wins the event – Viva La Femme Trails!

I hope events like the Urban Champs will help more people who would otherwise not have seen events like trails have a greater appreciation of the unique skills needed – and hopefully get more people interested in bikes!

Best of luck to all the 2017 Urban Champ riders – it will be a great event!

2017 UCI Urban Cycling World Champs - Bicycles Create Change.com

Here is the event list for this year’s Urban Cycling World Champs.

2017 UCI Urban Cycling World Champs - Bicycles Create Change.com

Kurilpa Derby

Last weekend was the 10th anniversary of the Kurilpa Derby in Brisbane.

It is a fantastic annual community celebration of life on wheels.

The Kurilpa Derby is a major social and community event where the main street of the West End (Brisbane) is  blocked off for the afternoon and taken over by all things colourful, fun, family and related to bikes…and other environmentally-friendly people-powered mobility, such as skateboards, scooters, roller-skates, trolleys, prams and everything in between!

The Derby is hosted by West End Community Association and is open to the general public and showcases the best that the West End has to offer in terms of business, community and lifestyle.

I have not previously been to the Derby before and this year it came highly recommended. Boy and I glad I went.

I had a brilliant time.

Kurilpa Derby - Bicycles Create Change.com

 

What happened at Kurilpa Derby?

The event is a much loved, anticipated and popular event.

It was a stunning, sunny day – and there was a great turn out.

Leki was at her floral best and I went as a jokey to pay homage to the ‘derby’ theme and also for the upcoming Melbourne Cup.

Kurilpa Derby - Bicycles Create Change.com

Kurilpa Derby - Bicycles Create Change.com

Kurilpa Derby - Bicycles Create Change.com

The day started with the Kurilpa Derby Street Parade.

Leki and I joined in the street parade along with all the other participants floats, families and locals.

The Parade was colourful and noisy and a lot of fun. We were surrounded by colour and energy and lots of locals, families and community groups participated.

The effort and thought that people had put into decorating whatever parade mode they had and their costuming was impressive.

There was so much to see in the parade, like the Brazilian dancing girls, a ‘public pool’ (float), beautifully decorated rickshaws, couches on wheels, unicycles, a tall bike, lots of environmentally-themed mobile displays and a number of killer drumming troupes who keep the parade bopping along.

An amazing oversized water rat ended up winning the float first prized prize.

My personal parade favourite was the beekeeping team-theme float. This was an understand, but well executed exhibit that had  a spunky lady dressed as a bee inside a box decorated as the ‘hive’ as their float. This hive float was pulled by two fully equipped bee keepers (in full bee keeping suits including smoke cans). This crew handed out ices-poles anyone who wanted them the whole time – brilliant!

After the Parade,  the road remained closed and there were a  range of activities,  demos, novelty races and entertainment, such as a Pet Parade, a cocktail race, skateboard demonstration and heaps of other novelty races.

It was brilliant to see so many visitors and families out and about. Kids were roaring up and down the street in between races enjoying the freedom, safety and fun of having an allocated street to roam free and go wild.

It was such a delight to see the community – all locals and visitors alike – come together in such a celebratory and inclusive way.

As the sun went down the festivities continued. The bars, shops, cafes and restaurants did a roaring business and were keep buys all day and night.

Many people stayed on after to attend the Kurilpa Beggars’ Banquet, which is a brilliant community potluck dinner extravaganza.

If you have never been to the Kurilpa Derby before, be sure to put it on the calendar for next year. It is well worth it!

Below are a few pics from the day. See more photos at local Greta Pavlova’s Album.

Kurilpa Derby - Bicycles Create Change.com Kurilpa Derby - Bicycles Create Change.com Kurilpa Derby - Bicycles Create Change.com Kurilpa Derby - Bicycles Create Change.com Kurilpa Derby - Bicycles Create Change.com Kurilpa Derby - Bicycles Create Change.com Kurilpa Derby - Bicycles Create Change.com Kurilpa Derby - Bicycles Create Change.com Kurilpa Derby - Bicycles Create Change.com Kurilpa Derby - Bicycles Create Change.com Kurilpa Derby - Bicycles Create Change.com Kurilpa Derby - Bicycles Create Change.com Kurilpa Derby - Bicycles Create Change.com Kurilpa Derby - Bicycles Create Change.comKurilpa Derby - Bicycles Create Change.com


Images my own, from Kurilpa Derby FB, @imogenbunting & @brisvagueness. Montage from The West End Magazine.

Don Kuson Community Bike Shop

While looking for community bike projects in Thailand, I came across the Don Kuson Community Bike Shop in Bangkok. It reminded me of a previous post from Cass about Ben’s Bici Cooperativa in Peru. The Don Kuson shop offers a range of bike services and programs as well as hosting live music gigs and other events. This report comes courtesy of Bicycle Thailand. Enjoy! NG.


Don Kuson Community Bike Shop - Bicycles Create Change.com

Possibly the only bike shop in Bangkok running on the support and donations of local bicycle lovers, the Don Kuson Community Bike Shop started as the answer to a need noticed by Alexander Martin. As an avid bicyclist in the US, he was involved in bike co-op organizations for years until he moved to Bangkok and saw that there wasn’t anything similar.

Don Kuson Community Bike Shop - Bicycles Create Change.com

Located deep in Charoen Krung Soi 57, Don Kuson offers the typical services that you would find at most bike shops around the city. They help customers find new or used bikes, they can help fix a bike malfunction, or they can just help beginners understand the basics.

But that’s also the difference between Don Kuson and other bike shops—they want to work with their customers, not just do it for them. It’s this kind of cooperative spirit that Don Kuson is known for and wants to push further into the neighborhood.

Don Kuson Community Bike Shop - Bicycles Create Change.com

Besides maintaining an open shop for the community, Don Kuson also organizes a few other bike-related activities. They host free city night rides, taking cyclists of all skills and ages on a tour around Bangkok after the heat of the day has subsided. They’re happy to help find bikes (and lights) for those who wish to participate but don’t own their own wheels.

Don Kuson Community Bike Shop - Bicycles Create Change.com

Don Kuson also has a volunteer program for the local kids called Earn-A-Bike. Any kid that completes 10 hours of volunteer service for Don Kuson will get their very own refurbished bike. Alex hopes that by working for their bike, it’ll add a level of value and pride to it.

Don Kuson will have been open for a year at the end of August 2017. But in that short time, they’ve been able to repair around 300 bikes, an impressive feat for a shop that’s only open 3 days a week and run only with volunteers.

Don Kuson Community Bike Shop - Bicycles Create Change.com

Generous individuals and supportive bike shops have donated all the bike parts that the shop has. They welcome and work with all bikes and riders of any skill level. It’s also free to use and runs on donations.

Don Kuson Community Bike Shop - Bicycles Create Change.com

In the future, Alex hopes that he’ll eventually be able to work with other organizations to promote bike safety, advocate better bike infrastructure, and, in general, make Bangkok a better place for everyone to bike.

If you want to help Don Kuson and you’re interested in volunteering, donating parts and/or money, or just want to talk to the man himself, the easiest way to contact Alex is through the Don Kuson Community Bike Shop Facebook Page.

Don Kuson Community Bike Shop - Bicycles Create Change.com

However, the best way is to just come by the shop. It’s open Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from 3:30PM – 7PM. You’ll get to see the community and understand, first hand, why this is such an important place to support.

Don Kuson Community Bike Shop - Bicycles Create Change.com

Don Kuson Community Bike Shop
402/33 Soi Don Kuson (Charoen Krung soi 57)
Khwaeng Yan Nawa, Khet Sathon
Bangkok 10120
ภาษาไทย [+] Tel. 087-971-6613
[Bangkok’s First not for profit Bike Co-Op]
GPS – N 13.71443, E 100.5163906


All Images: Don Kuson Community Bike Shop Facebook page & Bicycle Thailand. This post was first published at  Bicycle Thailand on Aug, 17th, 2017.