bike advocacy, bicycle tour, bicycle safety


Environmentally Sustainable Society Digest





Our content is
provided free as
a public service!

IBF is 100%
        solar powered

Follow us on Twitter


blue bar

Table of Contents

Links To Related Internet Resources

Community Sustainability Report Card

  • Name of Community:______________________
  • Name of Evaluator:_______________________
Subject: Grade Comment:
1. Reducing Miles Driven Per Person
2. Reducing Health Damaging Component of Air
3. Funding of Alternative Transportation
4. Expansion of Bicycle & Pedestrian Facilities
5. Reducing Number of Private Automobiles
6. Expanding of Inter-City Rail Traffic
7. Increasing Transit Ridership and Speed
8. Improving scenic visibility

Grades: E = excellent, G = good, S = satisfactory, P = poor, U = unacceptable.

Stern Review on the Economics of Climate Change

The most comprehensive review to date, which reports to the Prime Minister and Chancellor, was commissioned by the Chancellor in July, 2005. It has been carried out by Sir Nicholas Stern, Head of the Government Economic Service and former World Bank Chief Economist.

Copenhagen Presents First Bicycle Balance Sheet

By Ernst Poulsen [Bicycle News Agency]

For years the concept of green accounting has been discussed and developed. Now Copenhagen pushes the concept further. The city - which is a member of both the "Cities for Cyclists"- and the "Car-Free Cities" clubs - has presented the worlds first bicycle balance sheet, the newspaper Berlingske Tidende reports.

As all normal balance sheets - the bicycle balance sheet is to be presented once a year - with the clear aim of achieving better and better bottom lines.

This first year, 63% of the cyclists found Copenhagen to be a good or fairly good city for cyclists, 54% are satisfied with the number of bicycle paths, but only 26% find the maintenance of the bike paths to be anywhere near good. A similar low number of cyclists find the snow clearing in winter-time satisfactory. (1997)

Remember Rio: Report On The Earth Summit (Rio 1992) And The UNEP

by David Mozer

  • If you missed it, Rio was the site of the United Nations Conference on the Environment (UNCED), also known as "Earth Summit", June 1992. Here is our report: For the world "leaders," whom it was hoped would make decisions and commitments that would change the course of history, the conference seems to have been a press event and another round of speeches. Any promises have long since faded from their program agendas. The billion dollar clean up of Rio is also fading. Among the lasting legacies is a US$123 million, eight-lane expressway from the city to the convention center. (Brazil's total budget for environmental enforcement, including Amazon deforestation programs is US$60 million.) No one seems to have calculated the cost of the extra acres of forest that were cut down and tons of paper made as hundreds of governments and thousands of environmental organizations lobbied each other with volumes of studies, reports and plans on how to save the environment. A further toll was taken by burning the fuel for a million extra air miles to get delegates to and from a number of preparatory conferences, side conferences, unofficial conferences and the official conference. As for the delegates who were accustomed to traveling by private jet and being chauffeured around in large limousines before the conference, there has been little change.

Return to Table of Contents

Finding Sustainability

  • The key word for the Rio conference was supposed to be sustainability: The merger of what is necessary for a sustainable healthy environment with what is necessary for a sustainable healthy economy (that feeds, houses, employs, educates and provides health care for all of its citizens.) Interestingly, while transportation is one of the largest users of earth's resources (land, energy, air, minerals, etc.) it still was treated as a sacred cow and was hardly addressed by UNCED. So, we hardly have a word on what the world's most powerful policy makers are going to do to insure that transport is developed in a sustainable system.
    If the status quo continues, in most countries a disproportional amount of transportation expenditure will go toward the needs of the automobile owning elite, to the exclusion of the needs of the largely non-motorized poor. In addition, highways are generally placed in areas with the lowest property values (and correspondingly the poorest citizens). The poor are burdened with facilities that: don't meet their needs; create social dislocation; and foul the air, vistas, quiet and water in their communities. Where there is a correlation between poverty and ethnicity the burden of pollution also takes on a racial dimension.

Environmental Limits to Motorization: Non-motorized Transport in Developed and Developing Countries

An examination of non-motorized transport as a decisive component in a new strategy for urban development in both developing and developed countries. The book provides useful case studies, tables and many illustrations. Price: 35.- SFr. SKAT-Bookshop, Vadianstr 42, CH-9000 St Gallen, SWITZERLAND. Tel: 41-71-237475, Fax: 41-71-237545.

Sustainable Transport Math Quiz

A Chevy Cavalier (2 liter) gets about 30 miles per gallon ( a top performer in its class and above the overall fleet average for all makes) and is estimated to emit 39.4 tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) over its useful life (120,000 miles). A single mature tree can absorb 13 pounds of CO2 per year from the atmosphere. Assuming that the useful life of the Cavalier is 13.9 years how many mature trees does it take to absorb the emissions of one Cavalier? If each tree takes a 20'x20'(6mx6m) area, how many acres of forest are required for each Cavalier? (There are 43,560 square feet in an acre.) A BMW 750/850 (5L) emits twice as much CO2. How large a forest does a BMW require? If a city has an average 5 Cavaliers and 5 BMW's per acre of developed land, how many acres of forest does the city need for each acre of developed land?

Return to Table of Contents

Gas Guzzler Campaign

The Gas Guzzler Campaign is an educational effort to alter public perceptions and attitudes toward the automobile. Their goal is to discourage the use of fuel-inefficient automobiles, vans and light trucks as well as energy-wasteful driving practices. The campaign is being launched to fight the increasing environmental, public health and economic impacts caused by excessive and unnecessary gasoline consumption. Their campaigns goals are to build public support for alternatives to fuel-inefficient driving such as mass transit, bicycles and car- pooling. GG publishes a very informative email newsletter. For more information write to: Linda Horvath at [email protected] or Kevin Connors at [email protected] or The Gas Guzzler Campaign, c/o The Advocacy Institute, 1730 Rhode Island Ave. NW, Suite 600, Washington, DC 20006, USA. (1995)

Failure of Leadership

The headquarters for the United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP) (note the name) is outside of Nairobi, Kenya. The sprawling office complex is about five miles from the business center of Nairobi, in a rural area with very little public transit (failure 1). While the UNEP presence contributes substantially to the economy of the city, the UNEP felt that they were not getting their due. They threatened to pull out if roads and other conditions (i.e. telephone service, security) weren't improved. However in their complaints about access to their site the UNEP made no mention of non-motorized facilities or transit (failure 2). Eventually the Government of Kenya succumbed: police patrols were increased, utilities upgraded and the roads - - in the narrowest sense -- in all directions from the headquarters were repaved. None of the road work included lanes wide enough for bicycles and cars to share the lane, there are no paved shoulders and no improvements of any kind were provided for pedestrians (failure 3). While local people walk and bicycle in the area, the number walking or bicycling to UNEP is minuscule (failure 4).
As a footnote, a 1940's Comprehensive Plan for Nairobi includes a comprehensive system of cycle tracks in the road network. This ideal seems to have long since been abandoned. (1994)

The World's Best Cities For Cycling

  • by Scott Martin, Bicycling Magazine (1995)
  1. Groningen, The Netherlands
  2. Tainjin, China
  3. Copenhagen, Denmark
  4. Harare, Zimbabwe
  5. Seattle, Washington
  • Honorable Mention: Amsterdam, The Netherlands; Bogota, Columbia; Delft, The Netherlands; Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso; Padova, Italy; and, Perth, Australia.

Return to Table of Contents

Non-motorized Nairobi

According to a research paper by David Rukunga, University of Nairobi, in 1989:

  • 41% of all workers in Nairobi went to work by foot. In Kibera Estate
  • 18% of all men workers possessed bicycles in their homes
  • Lack of road safety was sited as the main cause for not using bicycles for commuting.
  • In Mombassa 59% of all workers commuted by foot.
  • The report indicated that there was an estimated 350,000 bicycles in Kenya.

In 1989:

  • Kenya had 362,000 registered vehicles.
  • 65% of these were in Nairobi.
  • 82% of the vehicles in Nairobi are mainly used for distances of less than 15 km.
  • The annual per capita income in Kenya is US$370.

[Uvumbuzi Tales & Trails, Uvumbuzi Conservation Club] (1989)

Pedalising Eritrea / Pedals For Progress

The Eiritrean Agency for the Environment, in an attempt to encourage bicycle use, has embarked on an ambitious project called Pedalising Eritrea. The Agency aims to promote the greater use of bicycles by all sectors of society: young, old, women and men. They believe use is not only good for the environment, but is also good for the economy and promotes better individual health, as well.

The need to provide low income working people in Eritrea with bicycles has led to one of the most interesting parts of the Pedalising Eritrea project; it involves the non-profit corporation Pedal For Progress and the U.S. Department of Defense. Pedals For Progress collects used bicycles and the Department of Defense donates the shipping for the first three containers.

In the distribution of the bicycles, priority will be given to people with low income and those who will most benefit from having a bicycle, including farmers, industrial workers, policemen and postal agents. Special emphasis will be given to women. The repaired bicycles will be distributed at a nominal cost appropriate to the income of the people.

The mission of Pedal For Progress is:

  • To improve the ability of the adult working class to commute to work by supplying reconditioned bicycles to people in communities of the developing world where reliable, environmentally sound transportation is scarce.
  • To establish in these communities self-sustaining repair facilities to maintain the bicycles and provide employment for local people.
  • To work within the communities of North America to reduce the flow of bicycles and bicycle parts to landfills by encouraging recycling of bicycles and bicycle parts.

For more information: Pedal For Progress, 86 East Main St., High Bridge, NJ 08829-2510 USA. Tel. & fax: 1-908-638-4811. Email: [email protected] .(1996)

Asmara, Eritrea, Bike Ban

Historically bicycles have been a primary mode of transport in Asmara, Eritrea. Statistically cars carry far fewer people. Last October, to protect bicyclists from cars, city engineers banned bikes from most of the major roads – and in some places the approach roads for one block on each side – making the city virtually impossible to traverse by bicycle. The ban has been the source of heated debate on Tigrinya radio and brought protests from the Environmental Bureau. Since the ban is reinforced by mandatory confiscation of offending bikes, the transport police's compound has become so full of bikes that they are now being auctioned off – causing further conflicts. Bicycles are a major asset. The reason so many bikes have accumulated is because owner can't afford the fine.

It’s likely he ban will remain for three major roads only and the plethora of "no bikes" signs all over the city will be gradually phased out. According to one city planner "the original plan was for three roads only, but since the Italian government provided so many signs, city officials thought they'd better use them all up!" Bless enlightened foreign assistance! Adding to the absurdity, the sidewalks in the restricted area are so unsuitable for walking bikes that cyclists who need to travel along banned streets walk their bikes down the road – in traffic – it’s illegal to ride them!
(Sept 1997)

Return to Table of Contents

Mobilizing Women In Fresh Liberation Drive

By Jennie Street, Asmara (Gemini News Service)

In the 30-year struggle for freedom from Ethiopia, Eritrean women rode tanks and armored personnel carriers into war. Yet today a social taboo prevents most of them from riding one of the country's most common forms of transport - the bicycle.

"The traditional view, particularly in the countryside, is that women should walk in a somewhat sedate, graceful and subdued manner," says Ato Naizgy Gebremedhin, head of the Environmental Agency of Eritrea. "Society disapproves of them riding bicycles."

Saba Mebrahtu, who returned to Asmara to work for the United Nations Children's Fund after many years in the United States, says sadly that she would like a bike. "It would have been so convenient," she sighs. "But my family talked me out of it. They thought it was shameful for me to ride a bicycle."

The country has 60,000 bicycles (compared with about 30,000 cars) and, since liberation in 1991, new ones have poured on to the market from Italy, China and Taiwan. But almost all cyclists are male. A headcount on a stretch of road between Asmara and the nearby village of Kushet found that at peak traveling time, from 6.30 to 7.30 a.m., an average of 90 cyclists rode to work or school - and not a single one was female. Despite the gender taboo, eight of the 241 riders who race in Eritrea's cycle leagues are women, though they are currently without sponsorship
(Sept 1997)

Uganda’s Borda-borda’s

The principle form of taxi transport in Jinja, Kasese, Kibale and many other rural towns in Uganda is the bicycle taxi, locally called a "Borda-borda". This is a standard bike with a padded seat on the rear carrier. Ladies sit side-saddle, gents sit astride.

This is a well established industry and is spreading throughout the flatter areas of Uganda. Almost every street corner and outlying hamlet has a stand of Borda-bordas. Or they can be hailed just like a London taxi as they ply for hire. At a distance, hand clapping is the recognized call for a Borda-borda.

Almost everything is transported by bike taxi, including the dead, huge loads of farm produce (as in seven full size stocks of bananas) and village pumps, complete with drop pipe and operating rods. There are also specialists who collect children, take them to school and return in the afternoon to take them home with as many as five children riding on various parts of the bike.

There is some disagreement on how the Borda-bordas got their name. That the root is the English word "border" is agreed. A version from Jinga says that the name originates from a period known as "the troubles" when people were able to escape by cycling to Kenya, about 125 km. A second version notes that custom’s posts may be several kilometers apart at frontiers. Taxis from one country can bring people to and from its custom’s posts and the same is true in the other country, but they are not allowed to operate beyond "the gates". Bicycle taxis going from "border-to-border" ferry people and their goods between officials.
(Jan 1998)

Return to Table of Contents



Home | About Us | Contact Us | ContributionsEconomics | Education | Encouragement | Engineering | Environment | Bibliography | Essay Contest | Ibike Tours | Library | Links | Site Map | Search

The International Bicycle Fund is an independent, non-profit organization. Its primary purpose is to promote bicycle transportation. Most IBF projects and activities fall into one of  four categories: planning and engineering, safety education, economic development assistance and promoting international understanding. IBF's objective is to create a sustainable, people-friendly environment by creating opportunities of the highest practicable quality for bicycle transportation. IBF is funded by private donation. Contributions are always welcome and are U.S. tax-deductible to the extent allowed by law.

Please write if you have questions, comment, criticism, praise or additional information for us, to report bad links, or if you would like to be added to IBF's mailing list. (Also let us know how you found this site.)

"Hosted by DreamHost - earth friendly web hosting"
Created by David Mozer.
Copyright ? 1995-2020 International Bicycle Fund. All rights reserved.