Saturday, February 16, 2008

Kona's AfricaBike

I'm not always very hooked into goings on in the bicycle industry, and though I vaguely remember news of this bike, I didn't take much notice until someone on the KOG list pointed it out today. For those who don't know the backstory, Kona developed an economical utilitarian bicycle for the delivery of medicine by African workers to those they serve. Partners and donors sponsor the bikes, they're shipped overseas and put to use. Very good idea.

Kona recently started selling the bicycles to the public. I haven't tried one, but the same design the makes it a useful delivery vehicle on African roads would likely make it a good vehicle for transport in urban areas. Fenders, basket, rack, chainguard--everything's there. For different reasons Americans need these bikes as well. There are different types of poverty, and the poverty created by mechanical Jacobinism is real and profound. Don't get me wrong. I'm not saying our rootlessness and lack of community is the same thing as not having access to necessary medicine and health care. Only that there are different types of poverty but all produce suffering. Of course the Africans' have the benefit of welcoming relief, while we largely remain smitten with our disorder.

Three cheers for the AfricaBike . I will be calling Kona on Monday to see about getting some of these for the shop. I believe the more that are sold stateside the more get shipped overseas. Win-win.

AfricaBike 3.0 (3-speed w/ coasterbrake)
AfricaBike 2.0 (singlespeed w/ coasterbrake)

Monday, February 4, 2008

Sheldon Brown 1944-2008

I never met Sheldon, though we exchanged e-mails a few times. I doubt there's anyone reading this page who wasn't acquainted with him in some manner. I spent a lot of time on his web pages when I first started riding a bicycle as an adult. I started riding late, and when I knew I wanted to work with bikes I spent even more time on his site catching up. At the time I was working as a mechanic at the local Trekalized dealer and every once in awhile I'd have a question that I couldn't find a satisfactory answer to anywhere else. I'd e-mail Sheldon and he'd answer it. I can't imagine the volume of e-mail he must have received. I wasn't special. I was just some curious junior mechanic. But he always took his time and answered the question well. He didn't have to do that. He didn't have to do the same for hundreds--if not thousands of others. But he did.
A beautiful and good life is primarily a life of gratuity.
--Ivan Illich

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Dedicated Car Lanes

Tip of the hat to The Copenhagen Bicycle Culture Blog.

"We are not militants. We believe that the car has its place in society and does not necessarily need to disappear. More people on bikes is the way forward, sure, but we are more than willing to share the streets with cars. The streets are for everyone, after all."