At the heart of the 100 Bicycles Project (#WDC421) is the fact that bicycles change lives.
Katlego’s life is better because of bicycles. This smart youngster was part of a community tree-growing project by Qhubeka, an organisation that gives bicycles to people in return for work done to improve their environment, community or academic results. Katlego realised she was good at growing indigenous seedlings to barter for bicycles, so instead of stopping at 100 trees to get one Qhubeka Buffalo Bicycle, she grew 600 and traded them for six. She now rides one to school, getting there faster, and rents out the others as income for her family and to save money for university. She wants to be a chartered accountant, and her bicycles are helping her to make her dream achievable.
Songezo Jim also believes in the power of bicycles. He lost both of his parents as a child and moved to Cape Town with his aunt from Eastern Cape. At age 14, he saw a competitive cycling race for the first time when the Cape Argus Cycle Tour passed his neighbourhood. Inspired, he joined a local cycling club that loaned him a bicycle and taught him to ride. Six years later, he became a professional cyclist and now rides for Africa’s first Pro Continental cycling team, Team MTN-Qhubeka p/b Samsung.
Sam Laidlaw’s life has also been changed by bicycles. He works in IT Distribution for AxizWorkGroup in the Africa Sales Department and is a passionate cyclist who races most of South Africa’s major road events. But it wasn’t always this way. Previously, Sam struggled with his weight. He decided to do something about it when he hit 155kg. He found gym dull, and it was only when a friend sold him a bicycle that he discovered a new passion: road cycling. Now fit and healthy, he’s lost 60kg. He often commutes to work by bicycle, skipping the traffic jams and minimising his impact on the environment. He says riding reminds him of being a kid, and believes all children deserve the opportunity to ride a bike, which is why he’s a supporter of Qhubeka and Team MTN-Qhubeka p/b Samsung.
Stories like these inspired Warren Lodge, founder of LIFE Brand agency, to develop the 100 Bicycles Project, combining his skills and experience in the advertising industry with his passion for bicycles into a Cape Town World Design Capital 2014 project.
“The idea was to have 100 yellow bicycles, each with a unique word or phrase on the bike, highlighting the myriad benefits of cycling in an African context, from minimising traffic congestion and motor vehicle pollution, to connecting people from different walks of life on a level playing field, providing a healthy, affordable, environmentally friendly form of exercise, and creating new bicycle-based businesses (like food vendors and couriers). Studies also show that business benefits when areas are bicycle friendly – in cities where pedestrian and bicycle travel are high, the surrounding businesses make more sales. People see more on foot or on a bike, so they buy more,” he explains.
Warren notes that the 100 words or phrases also speak about the mandates of the World Design Capital. “In this case, the 100 Bicycles Project is about the functional and timeless design of the bicycle, but more importantly about connecting people in new and interesting ways and undoing the division caused by a bad design system called apartheid. Bicycles are not only functional by design; they have tremendous socio-economic and environmental benefits too.”
The 100 Bicycles Project, spearheaded by ideas and communications agency LIFE Brand, found approval with Cape Town World Design Capital 2014, and is an official project. Warren contacted Qhubeka founder, Anthony Fitzhenry, who agreed that Qhubeka will provide 100 bicycles for the project, which businesses can purchase.
The project goal is to show people how bicycles change lives, and encourage them to change the lives of others. “My aim is for 100 businesses to buy a bicycle from this project so they can inculcate a culture of colleagues cycling to work, meetings or to buy lunch using a communal bike,” Warren explains. “Not only can businesses buy a Qhubeka Buffalo Bicycle, which is specially designed for Africa’s tough terrain, but the R4 000 they pay will also cover the cost of a second bicycle (including a helmet, pump and bicycle tool) for someone who’s worked to earn one through a Qhubeka project. Businesses can encourage employees to enjoy the benefits of cycling, and at the same time, they can change someone else’s life by donating a bicycle too.”
The Qhubeka Buffalo Bicycles used in this project increase a person’s carrying capacity by five times (the bike boasts a total carrying capacity of 250kg). Healthcare workers can visit more than double the number of patients per day when cycling instead of walking, and in South Africa, where 12 million of the 16 million school-going children walk more than two hours to school, a bicycle can reduce a child’s commute time by up to 75%. In fact, marks improve by an average of 25% for children who ride to school, and attendance rates rise by an average of 18%.
To participate in the 100 Bicycles Project, visit the project’s GivenGain page and make a payment of R4 000 (this includes delivery of your bicycle to your premises, provided you live in a major city in South Africa. Otherwise, a nominal delivery fee is payable). You will receive a unique Qhubeka Buffalo Bicycle bearing one of the 100 Bicycles Project words or phrases, and you’ll fund a second bicycle for someone in need of one. It’s a buy-one / give-one model. Alternately, you can simply donate any amount towards Qhubeka’s cause. To contribute towards the communication of the 100 Bicycles campaign, which includes challenging school pupils and design students to write an essay on all 100 words or phrases, SMS “WDC421” to 44754 (standard SMS rates apply).
For more information on the project or to see the full list of 100 words and phrases included on the bicycles, visit www.lifebrand.co.za/100-bicycles.