Monday, July 2, 2012

Ecovolis, The Good Use of P4P Bicycle Collection

Ecovolis is the bike-sharing system of Albania, which has revolutionized its capital’s transportation and circulation scheme. It started more than one year ago, as a necessity against the over – polluted and full of cars streets of Tirana, but it would have never been a reality, if it weren’t for the donations and the great work done by its strongest partner Pedals for Progress (P4P).
P4P is a program, which aims to put in circulation as many bicycles as possible around the world. These bicycles are donated, collected and distributed by American citizens…one more reason for Albanians to be grateful to this nation.

As part of the Social Stimulating Alternative Programs (SSAP), which promote and support environment friendly actions, Ecovolis immediately embraced the idea of using recycled bicycles for Tirana’s bike-sharing system. Apart from reducing the pollution created by the multitude of cars that circulate in its streets, Tirana’s bike-sharing system would be presented to its citizens with a strong ecologic and recycling message: ‘Put used bicycles into good use’, and that is exactly what P4P taught us to do.

Since the first communication with P4P and its president Mr. David Schweidenback, a thousand bicycles have landed in Albania and they are all circulating in its streets, even now, while this article is being written. For a country of 3milion people this is a great first step, especially considering the fact that after a 50 years communist regime, where personal use of cars was forbidden, the last 20 years of pluralism everybody wanted to have its own car, contributing thus in Albania’s becoming one of the most polluted countries in Europe. A great part of the bicycles were transformed and painted in order to become identical and be part of the bike-sharing system. However, hundreds of them were donated to Children Organizations, such as Terre des Hommes, or orphanages. Without knowing it, simple American citizens became smiles on Albanian children’s faces, who are all informed about the origin of these bicycles.

Being grateful towards David and P4P’s, Ecovolis has even communicated this cooperation to the staff of the U.S. Embassy in Tirana, who couldn’t but feel proud of the generosity and eco-friendly behavior of the people they represent, here in Albania.

All in all, the shipments of those bicycles, which embellished the streets of Tirana and Durrës, apart from the hundreds of bicycles, used by all ages around Albania, and sewing machines, which now are used by associations of women in need, brought a strong and more than symbolic message to the Albanian people: recycling and cooperation for good causes is what brings even distanced nations together.

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