Riding a bamboo bike across America

Bamboo’s been touted as the ultimate green material, both because of its quick ability to renew itself, and its durability. While the environmental aspects are complex, the tropical grass has become a favorite material for everything from building materials to fabric to bicycles. A team of riders set off on a cross-country journey yesterday to tout the material itself, as well as the economic potential of growing it in the United States… specifically, in Alabama.

The riders are participants in the Alabamboo initiative, a broader effort to create economic opportunity in the Southern state through the cultivation of bamboo, as well as the support of companies that manufacture products from it. The ride started in Greensboro, Alabama, where the team built their own bikes at the city’s Bamboo Bike Studio. Sponsored by a range of organizations,  including Project M and Common Cycles, the Alabamboo Make & Ride also has the support of former Alabama first lady Marsha Folsom (who’s very involved in the larger initiative to bring bamboo cultivation to the state).

You can track the ride on the event’s site and on Twitter, and also get some more insight into the broader initiative by watching this interview with Folsom and rider Marc O’Brien.

The US is the world’s largest importer of bamboo, and we currently have no domestic large-scale growing of it… think growing this crop in the South is a smart move? Know of potential downsides (invasiveness is my chief concern)? Let us know what you think…


Image credit: dphiffer at Flickr under a Creative Commons license