Accessibility links

Inventive New Yorkers Develop Bamboo Bicycle

<!-- IMAGE -->

In major U.S. cities, bicycling is increasingly seen as an environmentally-friendly way to get around. New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has launched a campaign to promote bicycling by adding bike lanes and proposing a tax on cars that drive on city streets. In 2008, an estimated 185,000 New Yorkers bicycled to work, an increase of 35 percent over the previous year. Now one New York bike studio is teaching people how to make their own bikes.

Bikers in New York are all over the place. There are fast bikers, leisurely bikers, and of course, messengers on bikes.

Now there's a new type of biker on the horizon, the bamboo biker. Thanks to a group of innovative guys in New York's Brooklyn borough, people can learn how to make their own ride.

Bamboo Bike Studio co-owner Marty Odlin says the great thing about bamboo is that it is sustainable and plentiful. "Our specific bamboo grows all throughout New York City. We generally go to places that have large quantities of bamboo, and most of the people are really happy for us to take it," he says.

In fact, bamboo grows so fast, it's like a weed and people are eager to get rid of it.

Odlin and his partners work out of a small studio, where they are developing the prototype of a bamboo bike they hope one day to sell. They collect the bamboo, cut it and weld it to make it more durable.

The company holds weekend classes to teach people how to make their own bikes.

At more than $1,000 a class, it's not exactly cheap. But Odlin says the money is going to a good cause. The goal is to use the profits to bring bamboo bike technology to developing countries. "A bicycle in a developing country right now, a popular Chinese steel bicycle, is about $110 to $120. A bamboo bike, made locally, with local labor could cost about $55, if you make it on a large scale. So, what that does, is that provides cheap transportation to a massive part of the population that can't afford it right now," he says.

Odlin says he and his partners are pouring all of their income into startup costs and technology.

But one expense he doesn't have to worry transportation.