- Bicycle Culture by Design: Escolas de Bicicletas - Bicycle Schools - Part Three

Here’s a follow-up article about Copenhagenize Consulting’s Escolas de Bicicletas - Bicycle Schools programme in Sao Paulo - together with the city’s Education Dept. The entire project is exciting. In the last article I met some of the kids who will be riding to school in convoys from their local community and participating in the curriculum about bicycle culture and history. Another important aspect of the project is the bicycles that the kids are riding. It would have been easy enough to buy 4600 bicycles - 100 per school - but with projects like this you can to take things to the next level. In the photo at the top you’re looking at the bamboo required for making a bicycle frame. The Escolas de Bicicletas programme also involves the production of 4600 bamboo bicycles for the children. A world unto itself in the project, far removed from the development of the curriculum, training the educators and monitors and collaborating with 46 schools.

Luckily, there's a man for that. Flavio Deslandes is a Brazilian bicycle designer living here in Copenhagen. He has been working on bamboo frames for a decade or so and collaborated on a high-end bamboo bicycle for Danish brand Biomega.

Flavio's own brand, Bambucicletas, is up and running in Brazil and South America, with plans to expand into Europe.

He agreed to design the bicycles for the Escolas de Bicicleta programme and construction of them is in full swing.

Constructing 4600 bicycles is a tall order. At one of the schools in Sao Paulo, CEU Sao Paulistano, a workshop and assembly line has been developed by Flavio Deslandes. True to the nature of the project and the spirit inherant in it, the people who are working to construct and assemble the bicycles are locals from the surrounding community. Twelve men and women were trained in the art of making bamboo bicycles. From cutting the bamboo to glueing it into the metal joints to adding the bike bits like brakes and gears and wheels. Bicycle empowerment, indeed.

Here's a bamboo bicycle frame kit. I met up with Flavio earlier this week here in Copenhagen and he told me that there have been some growing pains with the assembly process, but by and large it is going well. It's a massive logistic undertaking but once the technical details are in order, it's a smoother process.

Over 40 bicycles are constructed each day. After the resin hardens, the bicycles are sent downstairs to get their wheels and gears and what not. Then they're ready to roll.

The project was barely underway when other Brazilian cities started to call, hoping to get the programme onto their home turf. We're considering creating a guide to the project for other departments of education in Brazil to follow, based on our Sao Paulo experiences.

Here's me in the final assemply workshop. Photo by Daniel Guth.

The slogan for the project is "Pedalling for Education". Appropriate, we think. Previous articles about the project

Part one.

Part two.

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