By Ken Wysocky
13 November 2014
The first bamboo bike was a minor sensation when the Bamboo Cycle Company introduced it in London in 1894. The bikes won praise from none other than Lord Edward Spencer-Churchill – a distant relative of Winston Churchill – who was one of a handful of aristocrats who received one as part of a publicity stunt.
But in terms of market traction, the novel, rustic-looking velocipedes never got rolling. Some might see that as a cautionary tale for promoters who see bamboo bikes (and a host of other products made from bamboo) as economic saviours in under-developed countries. But bamboo believers like Kwabena Danso remain undaunted.
“Bamboo bikes are starting to get a lot of attention on the international scene,” notes Danso, the chief executive officer of Booomers International, a two-year-old, bamboo-bike-building subsidiary of the Yonso Project, a grassroots community-development organisation in Ghana. Trend-spotting note: Last November, United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon gave A-list exposure to a bike made by the Ghana Bamboo Bikes Initiative when he took it for a ride at the Warsaw Climate Change Conference. And several years ago, the Philippines presented US President Barack Obama with a bamboo bicycle made by the Manila-based Bambike Company….