By Marcel Gascón
Kyiv, Mar 28 (EFE).- A Danish NGO is collecting secondhand bicycles from across Europe and sending them to Ukraine, where they are used by social workers and activists to access remote communities affected by Russia’s invasion.
Mikael Colville-Andersen, one of the founders of Bikes 4 Ukraine, tells Efe that smaller framed bikes are the most sought after donations given that many social workers in Ukraine are women.
Bikes with a basket attached are another bonus as they allow the recipients to ferry around products to people affected by the war.
“A humble bicycle is a vital tool in rural and urban areas that have been bombed, so that people can receive food, medicine and basic goods but also to help people go to the doctor or school,” he adds.
Bicycles can help millions of Ukrainians who are facing transport issues due to the widespread damage to roads, public transport as well as the high cost of fuel.
Bikes 4 Ukraine came about when Colville-Andersen was approached by city planners in Lviv who had read his books on how to facilitate cycling in an urban environment.
The population in this western Ukrainian city has increased by a third since the Russian invasion began as refugees poured in from the frontline areas in the south and east.
This hike in residents put strain on Lviv’s public transport system.
To respond to the issue, Colville-Anderson and his new Ukrainian partners organized a scheme to collect hundreds of used bikes from across Europe and send them to Ukraine as an alternative form of transport.
Thanks to donations and charity funding, Bikes 4 Ukraine has been able to send hundreds of bicycles to Ukraine.
The project has since expanded to areas of the country that have been recently liberated from Russian occupation, including Bucha and Irpin, near Kyiv, and Kherson, in the south.
Sponsored by Danish beer Carlsberg, which has paid for trucks to deliver the bikes, the project’s bikes can also be found in cities hit hard by Russian attacks, such as Dnipro, Zaporizhzhia and Mykolaiv.
As a team of volunteers unloads a delivery of bikes in Kyiv, Ukraine’s capital, Colville-Andersen highlights a “poetic” side to the project that sees many of the donors leave messages or their contact details for the new owners. EFE