Ibike: Sustainable, Eco-Friendly Bicycle Tourism
The International Bicycle Fund: An Environmentally Friendly Way to Tour
By Isabelle Kagan
Bicycle tourism has been on an upward swing in recent years. Promoted as one of the most efficient, sustainable transport methods when vacationing, bike tours allow you to experience local culture and areas in a way that is more active, intellectual, and socially enriching compared to insular tour buses and cars.
The International Bicycle Fund
IBF is one of the only nonprofit, nongovernmental organizations that not only offers bike tours, but seeks to “create a sustainable, people-friendly environment by creating opportunities of the highest practicable quality for bicycle transportation.”
They are also largely a volunteer effort. The program’s primary goal is to educate on energy conservation, responsible tourism, and sustainable methods of transportation. IBike tours are only one facet of the program, however.
As a nonprofit, IBF receives its support from private donations, grassroots, and communal funding. A signifigant portion of funding goes toward helping under-developed countries build infrastructure, create training and advocacy groups.
Their projects include; “training welders in Zimbabwe to make bicycle trailers, advising a community tourism project in Tanzania, supporting a grassroots advocacy group in Uganda, advocating tariff reductions in Kenya, supplying bike parts to Eritrea, supporting a youth mechanics training program in Ghana” and countless other projects in South America and around the globe.
IBF’s IBike tours are around two weeks long, and range in cost from $1000-2000. These programs are designed for ordinary, active people. Each bike tour is designed to highlight the diversity and most interesting facets of the area, so on the tour you are living within the local culture.
One major detail is that IBF does not provide bikes, however bikes are available as checked luggage on most airlines. It’s important before a trip this be verified. Accommodations on the tour vary from local housing to tourist hotels. Meals are provided at the local standard and are often consumed community style in restaurants. Light packing is required, such as having an extra camping towel, sleeping bag, water bottle, and travel sized amenities. More information can be found on the IBike FAQ page.
“All programs are small group, immersion, people-to-people, bicycle tours, designed to get you out of the box, enrich your life and introduce you to the rich diversity of the people, their culture and the environment of the area.”
Isabelle Kagan is a writer from the south shore of Massachusetts. She spent five months studying in Paris and exploring Europe, becoming an avid fan of traveling. In her spare time she also writes for a satire blog. She currently lives in western Massachusetts.