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Bamboo Bikes Beat Bumpy Tico Roads

October 21, 2010

Alida Francisco exchanged her red Nissan Pathfinder for a bamboo bike at the inspiration of her mother.

Ahead of her time, her mother would take the bus to work in a suit and heels, not because she couldn’t afford a car or because she didn’t like driving, but because she was convinced that cars would ruin the planet.

When Francisco was young and living in the United States, she rejected her mother’s practices, embarrassed that she would be boarding the bus in the “car culture” of the U.S.. Only poor people rode the bus, she said.

But after watching the film “Fuel” and learning more about the bike movement, she finally sold her car and committed to a campaign to introduce bamboo bikes to Costa Rica.

“I am going through seller’s remorse,” she said, just days after signing the paperwork releasing the car. “Over the last week, there are days I have come home and cried.”

She explained, “We are so hard-wired into this need to have a car that it’s hard to adapt to another style of life. But I am convinced this is the right thing to do.”

In February, she traveled to New York to participate in an intensive two-day workshop on building bamboo bicycles. She came home with a Cadillac of a bike that when ridden, feels like it’s on auto drive. With her new knowledge and the connections she made in New York, she’s hoping to bring more bamboo bikes to Costa Rica.

Her dream is to develop a series of workshops to teach rural farmers to build a low cost model, hoping to reach them before the glamour of the U.S. car culture does. She is in the process of fundraising and hopes to schedule the first workshop for April.

“Bamboo bikes are lighter and more flexible, and mine was built with my own hands,” she said. “They say the best bikes are the ones you build yourself.”

Francisco will be participating in a panel on Saturday, Oct. 23 for the Professional Women’s Network about introducing sustainable practices into businesses and homes. Other speakers include Alexis Fournier of Recycle Art, Jani Schulz of Rainforest Radio, and Kate Cruse of 10:10 and The British Embassy. The event begins at 11 a.m. at the Tin Jo Restaurant in downtown San José (calle11, avenida 8). The cost for first-time guests is ¢1,000.  

To connect with Francisco, e-mail her at:  [email protected].

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