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January 07, 2006

BikeTown Program Goes International

Bicycling Magazine, Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation, and Kona bicycles are teaming up to bring specially made bicycles to needy people in Africa.

This news is detailed in 2 interesting December stories.

The 1st is from Genetic Engineering News:

International expansion of Bicycling's acclaimed BikeTown program will deliver 200 specially-designed bikes to health care workers in Botswana to assist in HIV and AIDS care

Bicycling Magazine Editor-In-Chief Steve Madden and Publisher Chris Lambiase announced today that the magazine will partner with the Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation and the Kona Bicycle Company to expand internationally its acclaimed BikeTown program to the African nation of Botswana in Spring 2006.

The program, BikeTown Africa, is designed to provide 200 specially-designed bikes to health care workers who treat HIV and AIDS patients and need help in the delivery of home health aids and services in two Botswana cities, Bobonong and the capital city of Gaborone, beginning in late March 2006.

BikeTown Africa will be operated in conjunction with two initiatives of the Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation's SECURE THE FUTURE program, an unprecedented $150 million corporate commitment to fighting HIV and AIDS in Africa. SECURE THE FUTURE has established a number of HIV and AIDS treatment programs throughout sub-Saharan Africa, including Botswana, where the HIV rate among citizens is 38%.

Kona Bikes has generously agreed to specially design, construct and donate the 200 bikes to be utilized for BikeTown Africa, bikes that will be specifically tailored to best suit local conditions while also requiring a minimum of maintenance. Spare parts and the training of local individuals on the repair and service of the bikes will ensure the bikes are fully utilized.

Reading about this was very interesting, and I think Bicycling Magazine's BikeTown Program is pretty cool.

Since 2003 the program has given away more than 1,300 bikes in 26 U.S. cities in an effort to "chronicle the impact a new bike can have on the physical and emotional well-being of individuals, as well as their families and communities."

Beginning in late March, BikeTown Africa will distribute 100 of the Kona bikes to home health care workers in rural Bobonong, where SECURE THE FUTURE has established one of its six African community-based treatment support programs at Bobonong Primary Hospital. The Bobonong program provides medical treatment combined with care and support beyond the clinics, including home-based care, psychosocial counseling, food security, orphan care, and income-generating projects.

The other 100 bikes will be given to counselors with the Botswana Christian AIDS Intervention Programme (BOCAIP) in Gaborone, a SECURE THE FUTURE grant recipient that works to reduce the impact of HIV/AIDS through integrated counseling strategies encompassing pre and post test counseling, home visitations and trauma counseling.

Genetic Engineering News ( 11/30/05 ): Bicycling Magazine Teams with Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation, Kona Bicycle Company to Launch "BikeTown Africa''.

On December 1st Bicycling Magazine posted a 3 page story, with more details, on its website:

Christophe Tshego is like most of Bicycling's BikeTown participants. Articulate, mid-30s, with big plans for what he'd do with a free bike. "I'd ride it all over and spread the word," he says.

For the 1,300 or so people who have received bikes in the BikeTown program since 2003, spreading the word has meant getting friends and family involved in cycling; BikeTowners have involved an average of three other people in the sport.

But Christophe, who two years ago learned that he was HIV-positive, has a different word to spread. "I want to let people know that being HIV-positive isn't a death sentence," he says. "Life goes on if you take the right drugs. But you have to get tested in order to know, and you must practice the right behaviors to avoid the virus. That's what I would ride all over and tell people."

This man lives in Bobonong, a town in rural Botswana about 400 miles northeast of the capital, Gaborone.

The magazine discusses the scourge of Aids in Africa, and how the Secure the Future Program is working to combat it, and how the magazine program, working with Kona, is planning to help out.

It also talks about a Press Conference in Botswana to announce the program.

Among the problems Africans face is mobility and transportation infrastructure, as well as poverty. Botswana is a hot, dry place, with largely flat terrain. A good system of paved roads with adequate shoulder space means that bicycles are an ideal way to get around. But at $100 or so, the cost of a bike is beyond the reach of most people. As one STF worker told me, giving a bike to the average African is like giving a helicopter to an average American.

That's where BikeTown, and Kona, come in. Kona is developing the AfricaBike, a purpose-built steel-frame bike that will address the specific needs of cyclists in Botswana, and other African countries. The AfricaBike, which Kona will donate to BikeTown, will be a 26-inch wheel step-through frame with a single speed and a Shimano coaster brake. It will also feature a comfort saddle, a chain guard, and special-edition Kenda tires to offer greater resistance to Botswana's many thorns. The step-through frames will allow greater ease of movement to the riders, most of whom will be women who wear traditional skirts. You can watch the development of the AfricaBike at konabiketown.com.

The full article is here:

Bicycling Magazine: Bikes Can Help Heal On World AIDS Day by Steve Madden.

January 7, 2006 in Pedaling Advocacy | Permalink

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Comments

I think it is great what that business is doing trying to promote cycling in other countries.

I am a big cyclist also, and think that this ideal is a great way to keep foreign countries fit.

From an active triathalete who tries to help people stay fit.

Posted by: Lily Fernandez | Dec 10, 2007 2:19:47 PM

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