Earth Day 2024 | Bikes for Africa

Late last year, we were a bit horrified to see a drone video of a so-called “bicycle graveyard”. Thousands upon thousands of identical rental bikes were stacked head-to-toe, abandoned in a vast concrete lot. According to the accompanying article, this was the result of failed bike-sharing initiatives in one area of China.

It simultaneously raised both questions and eyebrows. How could something so simple and easy to repair as a bicycle - the ultimate social mobiliser - be over-manufactured in such vast quantities that so many could not be put to long-term use? Were they all the result of a major design fault that rendered them unusable? Was the video itself even real?

Our thoughts turned to our charity partner, Re-Cycle. Had they been approached to revitalise any used rental bikes from British cities, with the aim of donating them to others who would benefit?

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It so happens the answer is yes. In 2023, the City of Brighton & Hove donated around 300 of their BTN BikeShare models to Re-Cycle, having served our neighbour to the south since 2017. The city council says that in total their bikes covered an impressive four million miles.

Claire Kettle, Operations Manager at Re-Cycle, explains that these bikes need to be handled a little differently to the usual bikes we receive because of their size and weight. “The bikes donated from Brighton Bike Share are solid, weighty bikes and are great for carrying heavy loads. They suit some of our partners really well, and we have shipped them to partners in both Ghana and The Gambia. The bikes need a bit more space in a container than a standard adult bike, so we only send around 20 at a time to maximise the overall numbers of bicycles we can ship to partners.”

Charities such a Re-Cycle provide an important yet under-recognised role in improving the lives of those less fortunate than ourselves, as well as helping divert functioning bikes and components from landfill. Their mission is to provide a hand up to social enterprises in rural Africa by providing their partners with bicycles, spare parts, and tools. They can then use and sell these at significantly reduced prices.

A bicycle lightens this burden and cuts travel time to a fraction, which dramatically improves an individual’s health and wellbeing as well as work and education opportunities, helping to bring social change. It can be used to carry passengers and heavy loads. Bikes give families the extra time to earn, learn and enjoy life.

To mark Earth Day (22nd April) this year, we are extending our regular Re-Cycle Discovery Coffee donation of 25p per 250g (and £1 per kilo) to all non-subscription coffees purchased through our online store.

And if you love trying different coffees from around the world, why not head over to our Subscription Builder and maximise your impact - all while enjoying a different mystery coffee every single month, with free letterbox delivery!

If you have an unused bike or spare components in reasonable condition and want them to go to a good home, visit Re-Cycle's website to find your nearest drop-off point and postal address.

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