|Open water swims are... exciting :)|
Having said that, I recently became aware of a really cool organization whose mandate is to distribute high quality, durable bicycles in poor African regions - World Bicycle Relief (WBR).
As a passionate pro cycling fan (save your puns about doping) I can probably recite recent winners of all cycling monuments probably as well as I can explain how to run regressions. So in one of my recent doodlings on the internet, I popped onto the SRAM website (SRAM being one of the leading bike component manufacturers) and discovered that SRAM is a main sponsor of WBR. The more I read about WBR the more interested I got in their operations and the more my academic brain started churning ideas for testing impacts of bicycle relief.
The fundamental question is what's a bicycle worth? For us in developed countries, a bicycle is mostly a pursuit of a passion, be it triathlon, road racing, mountain biking, cyclocross, what have you. At a more basic level, college students use it for commuting but alternative transport generally is available.
In poor countries, however, it can be a means of significant economic empowerment. A farmer can use a bicycle to reach farther markets, carry substantially larger loads, and deliver products quicker and with higher frequency. For these reasons alone, the value of a bicycle in a rural farm household is economically non-trivial.
|The WBR bike|
With these questions and a few design ideas in mind, I am currently in the process of discussing possible evaluations with WBR in Zambia. The people running the show are very interested in rigorous evaluation, a rarity among such organizations.
Hopefully in due time I'll be able to report back on this forum with our findings!