When I was first introduced to Pedals for Progress about a decade ago I knew I had to find a way to share their story with the world. It was enlightening to me that a device as simple as the bicycle could have such a dramatic effect on someones life. But it makes perfect sense. Mobility is a prerequisite to participation in almost all sectors of society, from health-care, to politics, to education, to business. And the bicycle is perhaps the perfect tool to enable people to get the mobility they need, especially in the developing world.
Bikes are affordable, they are easy to maintain, they are environmentally friendly, they promote the health of the people riding them, and when used by a vast majority of the people, they can bring a community closer together. When you ride a bike you are out in the world, not secluded from it. You can wave and speak to your neighbors as you pedal by to your destination.
Not only is our film the story of how the bicycle has allowed people a new sense of personal responsibility and dignity, by allowing them the opportunities to provide for themselves, but it is very much a story of a community struggling to find the best way forward after a very difficult period in its history.
Perhaps we in the developed world can learn a lesson or two from the people of Rivas. We are also entering a very difficult period. Our economies are singularly focused on the consumption of fossil fuels which are not only, as you know, environmentally damaging, but are also running out. Our reliance on the automobile has spurred an unsustainable suburban sprawl across the landscape. And our population, at least here in the United States, is becoming increasingly unhealthy.
Maybe the bicycle isn't the solution for every one of the monumental challenges we face, but maybe the lesson we can take from the example set by the people of Rivas is that solutions come in many ways, and that the simplest solutions to our problems are often overlooked.