Background information – Bamboo bicycles

Dr. David Ho and Dr. John Mutter at the Columbia University Earth Institute and Craig Calfee at Calfee Design collaborated on the original concept and design of the bamboo bicycle and traveled to Ghana during the summer of 2007 with funding provided from the Earth Institute. The team received positive feedback on a prototype of the bamboo bicycle, which was made in the United States and left in Ghana with the Bamboo and Rattan Development Programme (BARADEP) Secretariat for three months for rural inhabitants to try out. Based on this experience, the team hopes to stimulate the production of bamboo bicycles using the local work force and the bamboo that is currently grown in and around Kumasi. 

Advantages of bamboo bicycles

Rural Ghanaians could gain several benefits from a bamboo bicycles venture. These include the jobs created from stimulating a nonexistent bicycle production industry in the country and a potentially better transportation alternative. The bicycle is designed to carry large loads, which appears to be one of the most important decision criteria for rural Ghanaians when choosing a bicycle to purchase, since farmers need to transport their goods from the villages to the cities. The bamboo bicycle may potentially have a longer life span, since there is likely to be local knowledge of repair techniques, and since the bamboo bicycle’s frame could be easily replaced using locally available bamboo. These bicycles could be better than the bicycles that are currently imported into the country, which are not suited for the hilly terrains or to carry large loads. In addition, the bamboo bicycles are lighter and easier to handle.

Currently, there are two main bamboo bicycle production companies based in Kumasi in the Ashanti Region of Ghana namely: Booomers Ghana Limited and Ghana Bike Initiative. These companies market their products in and outside the country, e.g Germany, United States, Netherlands, Italy etc.