Moves are afoot in Manipur to give a green twist to the ubiquitous bicycles by rolling out bamboo cycles for the first time in the country. Bamboo forms the main frame of such cycles instead of aluminum or steel.
“The success of such projects in African countries and other developing countries has inspired us to replicate such models in India and boost conservation though ecology, economy and employment,” said Kamesh Salam, founder and executive director of the South Asia Bamboo Foundation (SABF).
The project, a collaborative effort of the SABF and the Manipur Cycle Club (MCC), aims at generating employment and nurturing the environment.
Salam, former president of the World Bamboo Organisation, said the strength and low weight of bamboo were appropriate for bicycles.
“The khok-wa (solid bamboo) found in Manipur’s Chandel and Churachandpur, besides kanakias-bah (bambusa affinis), another variety in Tripura’s Kalapara area, have the resilience to replace aluminum or steel in cycle frames.”
The other parts would be sourced from bicycle manufacturers. The idea is to keep the bamboo cycle’s cost lower than the average bicycle. Salam, however, did not speculate about the pricing. “We will produce the bamboo cycles on an experimental basis and assess the economic feasibility to spread across the country.”
MCC functionary Ramananda Wangkheirakpam said prototypes of the cycles would be put through durability tests.
The SABF and the MCC have scheduled a five-day bamboo cycle building workshop in Imphal beginning April 1.
Bamboo, a perennial grass, grows in every continent except Europe and Antarctica and is abundant in southern Asia. There are about 255 varieties of bamboo. Of the 57 varieties in India, 44 are found in the northeast.