THE BICYCLE CITY: how two wheels empowered a community

The Bicycle City. Trailer from Greg Sucharew on Vimeo.

Here in the US, bicycles generally fall into the category of “alternative transportation”… meaning an alternative to a car. Bikes are also alternatives in Rivas, Nicaragua… but, in their case, it’s an alternative to walking. Decades of war and political strife in the Central American country have left basic infrastructure and economic opportunities in ruin; in Rivas, providing citizens with bikes — about 20,000 over twenty years — has allowed them to create opportunities for themselves uncommon in many parts of the developing world.

The documentary THE BICYCLE CITY focuses on the role these bicycles have played in reinvigorating this coastal town. Currently in post-production, director Greg Sucharew’s film tells the story of how non-profit Pedals for Progress brought all those bikes (generally used ones from the US) to Rivas… and how they’re changed the socio-economic outlook for its residents. According to the film’s official website,

Told from the vantage points of Julia, the street vendor; Xiomara, the young mother; Joaquin, the entrepreneur; and David, the unlikely philanthropist, THE BICYCLE CITY is the story of how an idealistic experiment has helped the war-ravaged city of Rivas find its own path to recovery and normalcy through the introduction of cheap, reliable transportation in the form of the bicycle.

Those of us in the developed world tend to look at bikes as sources of exercise and emission-free transportation; for poorer regions, they provide those things, too… plus opportunity. No firm timeline on the film’s release, but if you’d like to see it sooner than later, consider kicking in a few bucks to the project’s IndieGoGo funding campaign (which has already reached its goal… so your donations will help with production activities beyond the campaign’s initial scope).

Take a look at the trailer above, and let us know what you think. Sounds like a genuinely inspiring story!