Over 1 500 people in rural communities in the Western Cape no longer have to walk long distances, thanks to the Bicycling Empowerment Network (BEN). BEN was started to improve mobility for people living in areas where access to transport is difficult.
They provide bicycles because they are safe and reliable, cheaper than public transport and they also promote a healthy lifestyle. “BEN’s mission is providing access to opportunities through the use of a bicycle – giving hope and a step up to those who need it most,” explained BEN General Manager Tim Mosdell.
In partnership with the Bike4All programme which is made up of BEN, Pedal Power Association (PPA) and Qhubeka. Bike 4All has witnessed the delivery of over 1 150 bicycles to communities. They delivered over 300 BMX bicycles to be distributed to children, along with helmets and safety bibs. The three entities were also chosen to lead the Western Cape Department of Transport and Public Works’ new bicycle distribution initiative which will be distributing 400 bicycles.
To make sure that the young cyclists are safe whilst pedalling their bicycles, the Cool Kid on a Bike programme is offered to all kids before the bicycles are handed over. Nathan Nelson from Zandvlei said having a bicycle has been very convenient for him, especially because he is involved in community work. Instead of having to walk for miles, or rely on expensive taxis, he now hops on his bicycle and heads off to his destination.
The bicycles are distributed through Bicycling Empowerment Centres which are managed by community members, creating jobs for community members. “Community-based entrepreneurs have been trained in small business management and as bike mechanics. The establishment of the centres promotes employment creation while providing BEN with a good distribution network,” said Mosdell.