By recycling discarded bicycles, David Schweidenback is giving people in the developing world the means to pursue employment, commerce and education.
Every year, Americans buy 18 million new bicycles and discard millions of old ones. Most end up in overburdened landfills. Meanwhile, people in developing countries need cheap, non-polluting transport to get to jobs, markets, customers and schools.
A bike isn’t just transport, it’s time. The time you save by not walking can be used to work, to earn more income. Having a bike makes your day easier and more productive.
Pedals for Progress, or P4P, set up by Schweidenback in 1991, has repaired and donated more than 148,000 bicycles, 3,400 used sewing machines and US$10.8 million in new spare parts to partner charities in 38 developing countries. P4P emphasizes responsibility; people who donate bikes to P4P also pay a small fee, and people in the developing world buy them at a low price.
Schweidenback has deliberately restricted his operation to the New York and Philadelphia regions, but his model has been copied by more than 50 independent enterprises across the United States and Canada, and in the United Kingdom, Ireland, Switzerland, Japan, China and Australia.
Number of developing countries where P4P has sent bikes
Bikes sent by P4P to Nicaragua, one of the main beneficiary countries of the programme
Bicycles P4P plans to ship in 2016