Philippines Bamboo Bikes:  Can bicycles help the Philippines reduce poverty and protect the environment at the same time?

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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I assume that you are asking about the bicycles in the link below or something like them.  If so, I would argue that these bikes will not do anything very serious to reduce poverty in the Philippines or to improve the environment.  The bikes will surely help with both of these things, but not to any extent that will really make a true impact.

Poverty in the Philippines is a massive problem.  By the Philippines government’s own statistics, something like 28% of the population is in poverty.  While making bikes from bamboo will help some people, it is not likely to help a very large number of people.  It will make a few jobs, but it is not the sort of industry that is going to employ huge numbers of people.

Making bikes out of bamboo is not likely to do a tremendous amount of good for the environment.  It will do some good since bamboo is renewable while the metals used to make traditional bikes are not.  The processes needed to make metal bikes are probably more energy intensive than the processes needed to make a bamboo bike.  But this is not a huge source of environmental degradation.  The bamboo bikes are not likely to replace cars to a much larger degree than traditional bikes.  Therefore, there are not any tremendous gains to be realized from bamboo bikes.

All in all, I would say that this project, even if it succeeds, will not do very much to alleviate poverty in the Philippines or to save the environment.

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