Friday, September 2, 2011

Change Lots Of Lives. Build A Bike!

One of the most interesting things about blogging, to me at least, is getting the chance to see where our readers come from.  I use a stats program that can give me a world map of readership over a specified period of time.  When the world map comes up, there are little dots for where each visitor's general area is.

Today, when I looked there were dots in Finland, New Zealand, Rio de Janeiro, Ghana and Turkey all within the same time period.  What a global spread!!  It got me to wondering what kind of information I could easily find about bicycling in some of these places, starting with Turkey.

There isn't a lot of easily findable material from a first person perspective about bicycling in Turkey.  There are a few stories about people having a bicycle vacation in Turkey, but I didn't find (with a very limited search) anything written by a Turk about riding in Turkey.  I have to admit, I was a little disappointed.  Lucky for me, I wasn't disappointed for long!

In my search I found this story about De Fietsfabriek, The Bicycle Factory, in the Hurriyet Daily News.  It turns out that De Fietsfabriek was started by a Turkish immigrant to the Netherlands, Yalcin Cihangir.

"Cihangir discovered that he liked fixing bicycles and wanted to make his own bikes; after six months, he started his own business in Amsterdam. Teaming up with a local colleague in 2004, he started the Bicycle Factory ("*

The best part of this story is that Cihangir has his parts manufactured in his small hometown in Turkey.

"Bike parts are produced in Büyükcamili, creating jobs for almost 30 men in a small place in danger of being abandoned. Cihangir opened the factory in his home village in order to give something back. People working at the factory have reasonable working hours and get a decent salary, between 1,300 and 1,700 Turkish Liras. Next to the bicycle factory, an atelier has been created where women make special clothing that is sold in the Netherlands and returns the revenues to Anatolia.
Cihangir is also financing a local agricultural project to grow products in an environmentally friendly way. His final goal is to make his home village an attractive place for young people to stay and make a living."*

Here are some of the people who make his bicycles in Turkey

and here is a wonderful little documentary of the opening of his factory. It is in Dutch and Turkish but you will get a very good idea of how big a deal this factory is and just how much good it is doing.

I have never met Yalcin Cihangir and I probably never will, but I would be very proud to own one of his bicycles.  He proves through his actions that there is so much more to bicycles than any of us think of when we jump on them to go to work or play.  Bicycles can save your home town!  Maybe Flint and Detroit, Michigan should get on the bandwagon, too.  After all, Henry Ford built and sold bicycles before cars and now Michigan is suffering the after effects.  Maybe those same bicycles could help repair some of that damage.  I know I would buy an American made bicycle like we used to be able to.  

I would certainly buy a De Fietsfabriek bicycle.  I may not be from a tiny village in Turkey, but it doesn't mean I can't help one out!

*excerpt from "The Turkish Bicycle Factory" by JOOST LAGENDİJK and linked to above.

1 comment:

  1. Very interesting. I also enjoy tracking where my blog readers live and reading about bicycling in other countries. For one thing, as someone who has always sat just outside the mainstream, reading about people around the world and how they use their bikes makes me feel more connected to others and a little less alone. Aside from that, I'm always interested in how people from other countries "do it", whatever it is. I'm not a big fan of "American exceptionalism" since I've had the luxury of a good bit of international travel and have often felt frustrated by our nation's insistance that we have to do it the American way. One of the things I enjoy social media is its ability to spread the word. I think all of us who are blogging, no matter where on the planet we live, play a role in that.