A lot of people have been asking for a clearer reason — why? “Bicycles are sustainable, sure, but — why?” “You like bicycles, sure, but — why?” “You want to do good in the world, sure, but — why?”
So I spent some time — a lot of time — thinking about it, and this is my response:
Before I started 90 Bikes, 90 Days, there was this fellowship called a Watson Fellowship, which grants selected fellows a sum of money to travel outside the US for a year. The fellowship is designed to be an investment in a person rather than a project, requiring no tangible outcome. I was a finalist, top 200 of 2,000+ competitors nationwide.
I had been biking for as long as I could remember, but had recently entered the cycling community as a volunteer mechanic. I wanted to learn more about the global bicycle community. I wanted, simply, to travel where there were bikes, to talk to people who rode bikes, and to share stories about bicycles. Volunteering as a mechanic was part of that, but a large part was simply being in and learning about these cultures that used bicycles every day. This was often because they couldn’t afford cars, didn’t have the infrastructure for them, or simply didn’t want them.
Somewhere amidst the development of the project — too late for my Watson interview — I realized I didn’t just have to go to these places to learn and grow and share stories, but that I could also offer my skills as a mechanic. I didn’t just have to learn about the way these places used the bicycle: I could help them to use it. So when I didn’t get a Watson (because I hadn’t figured this out in time to tell them) I decided I had to do the project anyways. So I started fundraising, calling it 90 Bikes, 90 Days, and now here I am, poised to travel the world, asking for your donation.
Special thanks to Aubrie B.