Bicycling Magazine of the US has teamed up with the Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation and Kona to create an African version of the magazine's BikeTown initiative. The bicycle scheme will start in Spring 2006 and will donate tough, single-speed bikes to health workers.

Bicycling’s BikeTown scheme to launch in Botswana

BikeTown Africa will provide 200 Africa-specific bikes to health care workers who treat HIV and AIDS patients and need help in the delivery of home health aids and services in two Botswana cities, Bobonong and the capital city of Gaborone, beginning in late March 2006.

BikeTown Africa will be operated in conjunction with two initiatives of the Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation’s ‘Secure the Future’ programm, a $150m corporate commitment to fighting HIV and AIDS in Africa. ‘Secure the Fute’has established a number of HIV and AIDS treatment programs throughout sub-Saharan Africa, including Botswana, where the HIV rate among citizens is 38 percent.

Kona Bikes will design, construct and donate the 200 bikes to be used in the BikeTown Africa scheme.

Like Trek’s ‘California bike’ (developed for Africa by Trek and the Institute for Transportation & Development Policy), the Kona bike will be tailored to best suit local conditions while also requiring a minimum of maintenance.

Kona describes the AfricaBike as "the most important bicycle the company has ever developed."

It’s a 26”-wheeled, single­speed, step­through frame design, with a Shimano coaster brake, chain-guard, comfort saddle and basket. Kona is working with Kenda to develop a special edition, puncture­resistant tyre that will withstand the rough terrain the bicycles will travel over.

Bicycling editor-in-chief Steve Madden said:

"Since we created BikeTown three years ago, we’ve seen hundreds of lives markedly and positively changed through the simple gift of a bicycle."

The BikeTown US project was launched for Bicycling in Portland, Maine in 2003. The programme since then has given away more than 1300 bikes in 26 US cities in an effort to chronicle the impact new bikes can have on the physical and emotional well-being of individuals, as well as their families and communities.

Madden: "BikeTown Africa is an opportunity for bikes to do more than just change lives. In this case, bikes can help save lives. So we’re grateful for the very generous support of Kona Bikes, which has enthusiastically supported this effort from the outset, and especially thankful for the vision and partnership of Bristol-Myers Squibb, which through its longtime sponsorship of the Tour of Hope, as well as its life-saving bond with Lance Armstrong, has long understood the redemptive powers of a bicycle."

John Damonti, president of the Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation said:

"One of the greatest challenges in sub-Saharan Africa is reaching those afflicted with HIV/AIDS and living in extremely remote locations with no means of transportation. The gift of a bicycle to a home health care worker and counselor will profoundly impact the lives in these remote villages, and increase the number of people who will have access to these vital support services."

Dan Gerhard, president of the Kona Bicycle Company said:

"BikeTown Africa is an example of what we, as an industry, should be doing. It might be too strong to say that the bicycle can save the world, but we believe it can and should play an integral part in the fundamental improvement of society."

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