Wooden Bicycles in East Africa

My friend Ephraim posing on a wooden bicycle in June 2000 in eastern Rwanda (just over the border from Uganda). A little while later, after we returned to the village we were visiting nearby in western Uganda, we saw a young man piloting this bicycle (with the load of potatoes) at the end of his descent to the village at the base of the extremely-steep mountain.
Photo Credit: Adam I. Lowe, May 2000.


Two kids lugging eucalyptus poles up a mountain road in western Uganda, one with a wooden bicycle. Which of the two is having a more difficult time?
Photo Credit: Adam I. Lowe, May 2000.


A close-up of a wooden bicycle with a load of eucalyptus poles in western Uganda.


Photo Credit: Adam I. Lowe, May 2000.


People returning to the eastern Congolese town of Goma and nearby villages, use wooden bicycles to carry their belongings across cooling lava, Tuesday.



Photo Credit: Saurabh Das/AP
Source: The Globe and Mail, Tuesday, January 22, 2002


Congolese residents in the devastated town of Goma push makeshift bikes bearing food supplies, January 23, 2002. The Nyiragongo volcano near Goma erupted on January 17, killing an unknown number of people and sending hundreds of thousands into neighboring Rwanda.
Photo Credit: REUTERS/Jacky Naegelen
Source: Yahoo! News, Wednesday, January 23, 2002


Boy with wooden 'bicycle' and woman headloading in Tanzania
Photo Credit: Paul Starkey
Source: World Bank Sub-Saharan Africa Transport Policy Program: Include All Stakeholders


Tanzania, central region, locally made wood bicycle (note yellow plastic light on front)
Photo Credit: Mike Yoffe

Source: Norbert Haley's Stock-Photo Library at y23.com


It's not in East Africa, but this photo is of a small wooden bicycle designed for children on display in a museum in Chiloe, Chile.
Photo Credit: Julian Chamberlayne
Source: Mountain Biking in the Americas


A Few Links About this page...
Travelling in western Uganda in 2000, I stumbled across very clever wooden bicycles being used to transport goods. These locally-made bikes had axles, steering columns, brakes (quite necessary for controlling descents in this mountainous region), and rubber tires. I was recently reminded of them when I saw the above photographs of similar bicycles being used by residents in the nearby eastern Congo (Democratic Republic of) city of Goma, to transport their belongings in the aftermath of a devastating volcanic eruption. Please email me at adamlowe@netspace.org if you have any additional information, references, or sitings of similar hand-crafted bicycles.