Bicycles are an environmentally friendly, energy-efficient and cost-effective mode of transportation. As transportation is a key aspect of development, Qhubeka believes that bicycles are a tool for progression. In fact, our name is an Nguni (Zulu or Xhosa) word that means “to progress”, “to move forward” or “to carry on”.
How bicycles improve lives
Most of Africa’s rural population has no access to transport. This means that people have to walk long distances to access opportunity, education, healthcare, shops and community services. Rural schoolchildren are particularly badly affected by lack of mobility.
Walking to school is good exercise, as long as the distance is reasonable. An average person can walk 2km to 3km in half an hour. According to information released by Statistics South Africa in July 2014, eight million children in Grade 0 to Grade 12 walk all the way to school, and two million South African children walk for over 30 minutes to get to school. In other words, they walk more than 6km just to get to and from school each day. Half a million South African children walk for more than an hour to school, which means every day they may be walking more than 12km to school and back. The percentage of children walking more than an hour to school and back each day increased by 0,7% between 2003 and 2013.
When children have to spend a large portion of their time and energy getting to and from school every day, they arrive at class tired and unable to concentrate well, and they are more likely to be absent. They also have less time available to spend on homework. Bicycles are the most effective and economical method of quickly addressing these problems.
With a Qhubeka Buffalo Bicycle, a child’s commute time is reduced by up to 75%. Schools where children ride bicycles to class see attendance rates rise by 18% on average.
A bicycle increases a person’s carrying capacity by five times and healthcare workers can visit more than double the number of patients per day when commuting with a bicycle instead of walking.
In terms of health and fitness, cycling offers numerous benefits. It’s a low-impact form of exercise suitable for people of all ages and provides a good workout to all the major muscle groups as you ride. It does not require high levels of physical skill, but is good for strength and stamina, as well as aerobic fitness.
Regularly cycling for exercise can assist in increasing your fitness, strength and flexibility and in decreasing your stress and body fat levels. It can also help to strengthen your bones and prevent disease.
As you can see, bicycles offer myriad benefits, whether used to commute or for recreational purposes. This is why Qhubeka believes that bicycles change lives, and why we have given out over 46 000 bicycles since 2005 in exchange for work done to improve communities, the environment and academic results.
Using bicycles safely
Bicycle safety is a critical aspect of our work, from the design and manufacture of our Qhubeka Buffalo Bicycles, to how recipients are selected and the information we provide to people along with their bicycles.
Each Qhubeka Buffalo Bicycle comes with a helmet, a pump, a cable-lock and a small toolkit for basic maintenance. Every handover event also includes a presentation to recipients on bicycle safety and maintenance. Our facilitators explain and demonstrate things like how to wear the helmet properly, how to check that all the parts of the bicycle are functioning properly, and how to use common hand signals while cycling. They also explain important road safety principles, like why it’s important to ride in single file, what not to do while cycling and how to ensure one is visible to other road users. They also spend time talking through maintenance tips, like how to wash the bicycle and clean the chain correctly, how to fix a tyre puncture and how to know when the bicycle needs servicing.
This Transport Month, take a few minutes to learn basic bicycle safety principles by reading and sharing our Bicycle Safety Poster.
Support Qhubeka this Transport Month
This Transport Month, choose to support Qhubeka by:
Buying a Qhubeka helmet for yourself. Our helmets are available for R200 each and when you buy one, you sponsor one for someone who has earned a bicycle through one of our projects. For more information or to purchase, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sponsoring a helmet, a bicycle or a portion of a bicycle for a Qhubeka project recipient by making a donation through our secure donations portal, Given Gain.
Practicing road safety. Help us to spread the word by sharing our Bicycle Safety Poster via email or social media, or even printing it out for your school or place of work.
For more information on Qhubeka, visit www.qhubeka.org.