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The Power of Bicycles

Beppe Salerno
Posted by Beppe Salerno on Sep 22, 2015 1:00:00 PM

This morning I am not riding due to a minor injury to my right toe (a rebellious kitchen knife tried to take a piece of it). Tried the bike shoe on, but no.

I’ll take the time to write a blog instead and today I would like to share the story of a project that I am very fond of.

Tulime Baiskeli (farming bikes in Swahili) was an idea that was presented to me in 2013 by some good friends that have volunteered for an NGO in a rural area of Tanzania.

While we consider bikes mostly as a piece of sport equipment and cycling a social activity, in rural Africa bikes alleviate big transportation problems, shortening the time and effort that it takes to move primary goods (water and wood), products and artifacts to be sold at local markets, doctors to reach patients.

Bikes also have a big impact on education. Kids can attend school (and obtain better results) by riding to it. Often, going to school involves many hours of walking and students sleep on the school floors or under a tree during the week because going back home is not possible, it is just too far by foot. Without bicycles many kids would simply not be able to stay in school.

Biking is 3-4 times more efficient than walking. Bikes can carry an excess of 400lbs of goods, and multiple people.

In the early stages of the project we had a difficult time wording what problem we were trying to solve. Then we came across this video that we dubbed in Italian to give our Tulime Baiskeli presentations with the right vocabulary.

I got help and precious advice on logistics and on the right type of bikes from Bikes not Bombs in Boston. Each year they collect thousands of bikes that are then distributed through their international programs in Africa and to the Caribbean.  

We spent years planning and fundraising and Tulime Baiskeli became a reality in 2015.

This Summer, my group of friends (including Giuseppe Di Giorgio – a Sicilian from Palermo who helped me design our Sicily West bike tour) made it to Pomerini, a tiny village on the Iringa highplane, to deliver the first bikes and to set up a bike repair stand after training some local field mechanics. 

As pictures are worth a thousand words, I have taken a selection from their FB posts that show their work.












The Power of Bicycles can have a durable social impact. I thought I would share that. Share on. 

Here are some links:


Tulime Basikeli FB page



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