“I’ve seen some of the highest performance bicycles in the world, but I believe the most powerful bicycle is the one in the hands of a girl fighting for her education, or a mother striving to feed her family.” – F.K. Day, Founder of World Bicycle Relief
It is hard to believe that something as simple as a bicycle can be a vehicle of dramatic change, enabling people to go to the market to sell their products and for children to go to school. As a tool for development, a simple bicycle can mean not just transportation but employment—even access to education and healthcare. Bicycles can change people’s lives and lift them out of poverty. Yet access to bicycles can prove daunting especially for people living in the developing world.
For many people in the developing world, walking is their primary mode of transportation. Add the challenge of distance and seemingly simple tasks of going to school, visiting the clinic, or delivering goods to market become difficult and sometimes impossible. With no choice but to walk, meeting everyday needs is a struggle against time and fatigue.
Mobilizing people through the power of the bicycle is the mantra behind the non-profit organization World Bicycle Relief who designs, manufactures and distributes high quality bicycles that withstand the challenging terrain and conditions in rural communities. Entrepreneurs use the bikes to increase productivity and profits. Students with bikes attend class more regularly and academic performance dramatically improves. And, health care workers with bikes visit more patients, more often, providing better, more consistent care.
World Bicycle Relief also promotes local economies and long-term sustainability by assembling bicycles in Africa and training over 1,200 field mechanics. Since 2005, World Bicycle Relief has delivered over 300,000 bicycles and is making an enormous impact in people’s lives.
All photos credited to World Bicycle Relief
On July 11, 2016, World Bicycle Relief presented the Trailblazer Award to Dr. Leszek Sibilski, former Olympic cyclist, global development thought leader and advocate for bicycles. The annual Trailblazer Award honors an individual who has challenged conventional thinking around the complex issues of poverty, social justice and access while illuminating a new path forward with innovative and bold ideas that have the power to transform millions of lives. Dr. Sibilski has done just that with his tireless work promoting the bicycle as a tool of great change for people around the world.
Here are some of the words that Dr. Sibilski shared with the audience while accepting the Trailblazer Award: