From Inspiration to Passion

From Inspiration to Passion

How a bamboo bike, touring one of the most historical sites in Manila, is changing the game of travelling eco-friendly

Text and photos by VANESSA ESTINOZO

WITH THE FAST-PACED routine we have in Manila, congested roads, and heavy traffic, going from one meeting to next, biking is just one of the most convenient, easiest, and less toxic way to the polluted city.

“Biking as a transportation method and recreational activity all contributed in making me invest my time and energy in developing Bambike,” President and Founder of Bambike Bryan Benitez McClelland.

Inspired by bamboo bike projects in Africa, Bryan brought the technology in the country in 2009. Earth Day of 2014, Bambike rolled out their eco-tour in the oldest district of Manila, changing the basic bike design and leaving a positive impression to the environment, letting riders get to have a better feel of the Walled City.

“For me biking around an area is one of the best ways to get to know it ‘cause you really can cover a lot of ground but still be one with the city. You’re not separated by windows, doors of a taxi, or a car, or a bus,” says Bryan.

Although Bambike seems like a small boutique-like shop in the heart of Manila, they have export-ready bikes that reached up to Europe, United States, and throughout Asia.

Locally, Bambike is taking a notch higher not just for easy travels, reliable strength as bamboos are naturally shock absorbent, and the inventive design, but also leaving a mark in the environment with bamboo reforestation projects and giving opportunities to the Bambuilders.

Bambikes source their bamboos from Luzon and Visayas. Months of hand selecting mature bamboo poles and a series of smoking, sun-drying and direct heat application like a blow-torch adds to the aesthetic uniqueness of Bambike.

Not every day we see a bike made from bamboo cruising in the busy streets of Intramuros. Bryan recalls the moments where his bamboo bike has sparked up a conversation with a stranger—either fascinated or in disbelief.

He underscores his inspiration to create jobs to people that need them the most and recognize the Philippines’ gift in natural resources namely bamboo.

The eco-friendly bike gives back to its employees, providing rural jobs and reinvesting on the community from the Gawad Kalinga Villagers in Victoria, Tarlac. The social-ecological enterprise also sponsors civil school teachers and organizing feeding program in the community as well.

An entrepreneur and environmental advocate, Bryan involved himself in community development in the Philippines with Gawad Kalinga first before extending his community work at Bambike.

“I really whole-heartedly felt and still feel biking will be one of the primary transportation choices for the future and new developments will adopt bike lanes and pedestrian friendly mobility,” he expressed.

At present, Bambike leads tours of up to 40 guests around Intramuros. It has earned multiple honors and awards such as the Bicycle Advocacy Certificate of Recognition for advocating greenest bicycles and Katha Eco-Design Award for an outstanding quality and high-caliber design.TP

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